Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Report: 76ers part-owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien to invest in Major League Soccer's D.C. United

ESPN.com's Marc Stein, who has connections in both the NBA and American soccer, is reporting that 76ers part-owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien are on the verge of becoming part-owners of D.C. United.

Report: 76ers part-owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien to invest in Major League Soccer's D.C. United

ESPN.com's Marc Stein, who has connections in both the NBA and American soccer, is reporting that 76ers part-owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien are on the verge of becoming part-owners of D.C. United.

Pending approval from Major League Soccer headquarters, Thohir and Levien could join current United chief investor Will Chang's team as soon as next week.

Thohir is Indoniesian, and has multiple media holdings in his home country. Levien is a former basketball agent - clients included Luol Deng, Udonis Haslem, and Hedo Turkoglu - and briefly worked in the Sacramento Kings' front office.

Thohir's interest in MLS, and in United specifically, is not new. His name first surfaced as a potential investor back in March, and he attended a United practice in late May.

I had not heard Levien's name associated with United until now, and I think his involvement will be of more interest to Union fans than Thohir's. Here's why.

I mentioned earlier that Levien has past experience working in a NBA front office. When the 76ers' current ownership group bought the team last year, the potential for Levien to take a role in player personnel came up a few times.

That hasn't happened yet - at least not publicly. But it may be fair to ask whether Levien can have a deep interest in two completely separate professional sports teams at the same time.

Now, you can make an easy counter-argument to that. If all he does is invest money and get out of the way, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, plenty of people would probably be just fine with it.

But knowing Levien's passion for basketball, I can't help wondering to what degree he would take a role in United's operation. MLS is still a small enough league that most of its investor-operators take active interests in their clubs.

You can ask a similar question from the opposite perspective. If Levien takes an active interest in United, how will that affect his role with the 76ers? Levien was supposed to bring the basketball brains to complement the financial savvy of Joshua Harris and the fan's enthusiasm of Adam Aron.

Is it possible that I'm over-doing this? Sure. But I think the questions ought to be asked nonetheless.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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