Competition strategy: the case of Major League Soccer
: The 'American Way or the European Highway'

  • Luke Whitworth

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


There has recently been a noticeable increase in the number of articles and blogs surrounding the case of Major League Soccer. This rise is down to the enhanced interest in football throughout the U.S and their national league, the MLS. Despite the evident growth the league has witnessed since its introduction in 1996, the governance structure of the league continues to be deliberated. This study has been designed to evaluate the differences in sporting competition design, between football in the United States and European football. To aid this evaluation, MLS and the EPL will be employed as case studies for comparative analysis. The focus of this research investigation is to highlight how the MLS can become more competitive on the international stage. The league has received varied views regarding the future of the MLS, with certain stakeholders believing that MLS should look to conform with its European counterparts, whereas other personnel hold the view that the league should maintain its already established, conventional North American model.

Consequently, this thesis examines the differences in competition design between the EPL and MLS, in which the findings will be paralleled alongside the MLS’ current design to initiate potential alternatives. To aid the analyses of each competition’s structure, in-depth semi-structured interview have been conducted with multiple stakeholders within the football industry. These interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed, searching for the emergence of key themes and responses to how MLS can flourish in the future. Analysis of data indicates that there continues to be a divide amongst stakeholders surrounding the competition design of the MLS. Based on these findings, the considerations have been conceptualised, allowing the researcher to make recommendations as to how MLS can be considered a major player in the football industry.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorSamantha Gorse (Supervisor) & Simon Chadwick (Supervisor)


  • competition strategy
  • football
  • soccer

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