Shortly after the Major League Soccer draft began on Thursday, a ”Where’s Frank Lampard?” chant echoed through the grand ballroom of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Rivals won’t let New York City FC forget the expansion team’s confusing acquisition of the English midfielder.
NYCFC said in July it signed Lampard to a two-year contract starting in August. Lampard then began playing for Manchester City, which like NYCFC is controlled by City Football Group. But Manchester City said on Dec. 31 it was keeping Lampard through the end of the English Premier League season in May. NYCFC said this month Lampard signed a contract just after New Year’s Day to join it this July.
”It could have been handled better,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on Thursday. ”And it needs to be handled better going forward. We’ve learned lessons from this, and those lessons are that transparency is more and more important.”
Garber defended NYCFC by saying the club never intended to intentionally ”mislead the fans,” but added that NYCFC ”characterized it improperly” when first announcing Lampard’s signing.