What MP & Silva’s $4 billion TV deal could mean for lower leagues of American soccer
Perhaps coincidently, Wilt’s timeline would put a full implementation of promotion and relegation around the year 2023, which is when Silva’s proposed deal with MLS would have begun. Given Silva is already an influential NASL owner, the opportunity to build out a TV property using a new league structure is likely attractive.
NASL had previously stated its desire to be a Division 1 league even threatening litigation to force the issue. After a rough 2016 where the league saw two clubs defect to rival USL and two others suspend operations at least for 2017, the league fell from 12 teams to eight. Talk of challenging MLS’ hegemony as a D1 was dropped though recent expansion announcements in San Diego and Orange County have boosted NASL once again.
With MLS unwilling to entertain Silva’s offer, might NASL, NISA and NPSL be able to form a new pyramid using Silva’s money and clout with potential media partners to create an attractive alternative pyramid?
The answer is yes, though it must be noted that without the infrastructure MLS has built as well as the long-term well-thought-out commitment to youth development and local players the US’ top league has shown, NASL and its clubs will need to figure out how to build that quickly. The NASL structure where the league takes a hands-off role with regards to club matters has led to wild discrepancies in what owners spend and how they set priorities. While this is the way most open systems operate across the globe, the clubs in NASL and presumably in NISA also aren’t established enough in their communities and in the soccer landscape to not have a strong centralized structure for now.
Perhaps Riccardo Silva doesn’t see how investing $4 billion in building the infrastructure for NASL and NISA will create an opportunity to recoup the investment, unlike MLS where selling media rights for an established brand might have been easier. But if he is serious about instituting an open system in the United States, he could urge the MP & Silva resources be spent on elevating NASL’s standards, building an effective pyramid that can facilitate promotion and relegation with NISA and NPSL and then effectively market it to media partners.
No guarantee exists this alternative structure could challenge MLS, but with Silva’s financial resources and his media contacts, they certainly could attempt to give it a go.