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NASL pursuing litigation against US Soccer


On Monday, The Financial Times newspaper reported that the second-tier North American Soccer League (NASL) has launched a legal case against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) regarding first division sanctioning.

In a nation without promotion and relegation, USSF is able to create arbitrary standards with the first-tier league MLS to determine what D1 standards should be. While the USSF is the governing body of soccer in all its forms in the United States, it maintains a very cozy relationship with MLS through its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM), which works closely with US Soccer for promotion and television rights purposes.

According to The Financial Times article, proposed changes have been issued in which to qualify for Division 1, a league would need 16 teams, up from 12 under 2014 rules, per NASL. It would also have to meet a requirement that 75 per cent of its teams be based in cities with a population of more than 2 million people, up from 1 million. It adds that the requirement for all team stadiums is to meet a minimum 15,000 seat capacity for the entire league to qualify for Division I, which NASL argues is “highly unreasonable.”

“Doubling the population criteria now is an anti-competitive bait and switch, with the purpose of entrenching MLS’s monopoly position at the very time when the NASL is threatening to become a significant competitor,” Jeffrey Kessler, an antitrust and sports attorney representing NASL, wrote in a letter to Sunil Gulati, head of US Soccer.

“The financial damage is significant,” Mr Kessler told the FT. “Simply put, the actions by US Soccer are hindering the league’s earnings potential with advertisers, broadcasters and other business partners, who will pay top dollar only for Division I, regardless of the quality of play or passion of the fans,” he said.

The NASL claims its second tier status makes it harder to gain access to world tournaments and attract players, team owners and quality referees. Division I status would enable the league to command more in merchandising rights, too.

On legal grounds within the closed system of North American soccer, it would appear the NASL has a strong case. City size and minimum stadium sizes are necessary at the D1 level but requiring a metro area population of 2 million for 75% of the teams and allowing no exceptions to a requirement for 15,000 seater stadiums would seemingly make it impossible for any league to challenge MLS’ monopoly.

On stadium size, AFC Bournemouth (in England) would not have been able to take their place in a USSF run D1. Regarding city size, it’s worth noting that the fourth largest UK Metropolitan area in terms of population, Leeds/Bradford, has not had a Premier League club since 2004 and for several seasons did not even have a second division club. Yet English soccer lived on. It could be argued the top division would be strong with Leeds United in the league, but the league has not been hurt by having smaller markets such as Norwich or Burnley (both of whom would be seen as clear D2 or D3 markets by this USSF standard) in the top flight.

However, another side to this story exists. Even for this 2015 season, NASL did not meet the Division 2 standards set by the USSF that have been in place since 2010, requiring a waiver for not having a west coast team and for the stadiums in Atlanta and Edmonton not meeting minimum requirements. However it is very true these standards are quite arbitrary in their conception and implementation. But NASL agreed to those standards when sanctioned as a Division 2 league provisionally in November 2010 at the same time that USL, which was also seeking D2 status, opted to drop to D3 where less stringent requirements were in place. NASL’s decision to accept those D2 standards drove up the costs of running a club at the lower-division level and increased travel costs. It could be argued that USL ultimately benefited from this as the clubs that opted for USL, which included several former D2 clubs, have saved money and could be at the second division level once again soon.

Today, I have heard from various sources that NASL might have needed to file this lawsuit because they are finding sponsorhips and expansion opportunities to be limited. USL, which is still a D3 but has announced plans to seek D2 status, has been able expand rapidly into many second-tier markets the NASL could have added if they were interested in staying at that level in the pyramid. I have also heard that NASL owners are largely split on the future course, with some wanting to focus on entertainment and marketing opportunities in their local markets while others want to see the league built out across the continent in a manner that makes it a major league.

The ramifications from this lawsuit may include:

– NASL wins the case but several owners of clubs in medium sized markets who have already maximized revenue and sponsorship potential, such as San Antonio, choose to leave and join USL. For San Antonio in particular, this makes sense as they will have as many as five USL clubs next season within bus driving distance of the Texas city. Clubs such as Carolina cannot compete financially with the bigger market teams without some significant revenue sharing and they either will leave for USL or force a change in NASL’s structure that makes it more like an American pro league and less like a foreign one.

– NASL wins the case but cannot compete with MLS outside of the New York market where the Cosmos brand still has the cache that New York City FC is unlikely to ever create. Clubs such as the Tampa Bay Rowdies, limited by stadium size, cannot compete effectively with Orlando City just 70 miles down the road and the current ownership eventually loses interest and either sells or folds the club.

– NASL wins the case and teams such as Indy Eleven and Jacksonville Armada — with fantastic local support —then receive the political support necessary to get new stadiums. This boosts NASL and the league is able lock down its markets, and competes with MLS head-to-head.

– NASL wins the case, gets D1 status and one or more MLS owners seeing the independent club model of NASL choose to abandon the older league. This is highly unlikely but could happen should the D1 designation for MLS become less valuable.

– USSF wins and NASL accepts Division 2 but USL is also granted D2 status and the two battle head-to-head for
legitimacy. USL now has an affiliation with MLS so it becomes a battle between a “feeder-league” and an independent one.

– USSF wins and NASL dissolves without proper financial backing and national sponsorships. Several clubs go to USL and MLS cherry picks from the rest. Those left over go out of business. This seems to be the scenario many think will play out but I am not sure it is the most likely one. Then again, as a former NASL employee, I still want to see the league survive and would hate for this to happen, so maybe that clouds my perception.

What do our readers think will become of this? Let us know in the comments section!

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  1. charlie

    August 13, 2017 at 1:50 am

    no time yet to read all the comments, but the irony is that soccer in America is contrary to the free market economy base that America became the #1 nation on the planet.

    Let all teams start at the same starting line, install the promotion/relegation system that the rest of the world has for their soccer, and this open pyramid system will sort out the best and worst. At the end of the day, survival of a team is about having the fans to support the team. Whether it’s an MLS, NASL, USL, or any team, the future of the team depends on its connections with its supporters. Without the supporters foundation, a team will perish sooner or later. international soccer is not a franchise system like it’s made to be in America, with certain individuals with the authority to say which team can and cannot get to the top of the pyramid; let the games determine which team gets to the top of the pyramid. America cannot win a World Cup because of these in-fighting, petty politics that the rest of the world get to laugh on.

    if NASL ought to sue, sue on antitrust law should get it somewhere. I hope that America will win a World Cup in my life time, but highly doubt due to these petty politics which are much more about money than the beautiful game of international football.

  2. Jim

    September 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    If we were talking strictly about the 1st regular season game played at EverBank Field when they announced just over 16,000, then 1,200 no-shows is acceptable…except for the fact it was their 1st ever NASL game so I would expect a lower no-show rate.

    But, we are talking only about the games played in their normal venue with an average announced attendance of 7,500. If that is a tickets distributed figure, then an average of 1,200 no shows per game is concerning. If San Antonio has a higher percentage of no-shows, should be concern there as well. Don’t know the capacities of those MLS facilities, but 5,000 – 8,000 no-shows would be concerning if they facilities are in the 15,000 – 20,000 capacity range.

  3. jim

    September 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    While support has been good at times in year one, that 8,356 average is thanks to having their home opener at EverBank Field. They don’t average that kind of number for their games at the Baseball Grounds (14 of 15 NASL games). If they are using about 7,500 as their average tix distributed figure for their games at the Baseball Grounds then it looks like they are averaging around 1,200 no shows per game.

    • Len

      September 15, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      That estimated amount of no shows isn’t bad at all, San Antonio seems to have a much higher rate of no shows and some MLS franchises just this last weekend had as much as 5-8K no shows in Houston, Toronto, and New Jersey.

  4. Jim

    September 15, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I would question the ‘fantastic support’ comment when speaking of the Jacksonville Armada. While they announced 16,000+ for their regular season opener played at EverBank field, their average home attendance for their games at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville is probably around 6,000 to 6,300 (though they announce a much higher average) in a facility with 8,500+ capacity.

    • Christopher Harris

      September 15, 2015 at 11:45 am

      6,000 to 6,300 for a NASL team is still fantastic in my book.

      • Jim

        September 15, 2015 at 1:21 pm

        I would guess the team was hoping for a much higher figure. 6,000 is about the NASL average announced (not actual) attendance for games played so far this year.

    • Len

      September 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Jacksonville Armada FC are averaging 8356 per game which is “fantastic support” for the expansion clubs first year. That would be tickets distributed that is announced as all sports teams do so, there’s always no shows at sports events.

  5. Robert

    September 3, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Average litigation of this sort is 4 years. I’ll take the under on the life of NASL unless they resolve this peacefully with USSF.

  6. AmericanizeSoccer

    September 1, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    do Spurs still own rights to USL team in San Antonio?

  7. WSW

    September 1, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    So what about MLS/USSF conflict of interest? What about changing rules on the fly or whim of MLS?

    • OpenCupFan

      September 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Don’t hold your breath, Karthik only attacks NASL. You won’t see the mls/USSF conflict of interest discussed.
      You also won’t see any analysis criticizing these new arbitrary standards – like how does the idea that market size has anything to do with quality of a soccer club demonstrated.
      I mean Karthik is a self professed Orlandor City supporter, yes the Orlando City that sprung up yesterday, and not either the Rowdies or Strikers who are closer to him and have been around since the 70s.
      This is one of those guys that says I want NASL to do well…….. as long they stay subservient to MLS.
      The interesting thing is that Karthik, like so many other American soccer writers, sits there and talks about Euro leagues ad nauseum, but then wants to apply different rules to our own country’s clubs than the rules the other leagues they talk about have for their teams. I find this fascinating to no end.
      Last, despite all the talk of NASL’s failings, there is no talk of how MLS controls USSF and as a result MLS controls the environment in which NASL is forced to operate in, how about some acknowledgement of the NASL’s obstacles – obstacles that mls does not have to contend with?
      Ok, one other thing, how about some questions about the charter from the U.S. Government that gives USSF its mandate? Does it say USSF is only created to bolster one league at the expense of all other soccer leagues?
      Despite Karthik’s slam fest against NASL, here are some facts –
      – NASL continues to grow despite ZERO support from USSF
      – NASL attendance is at record levels for d2 in the U.S.
      – NASL TV exposure is growing faster than MLS’ at the same time in MLS development, this is particularly significant because unlike MLS, NASL did not get USSF assistance in any of its TV contracts
      – follow the money, MLS gets its TV deals because it is bundled with the USMNT, how much is USSF getting from this arrangement?
      – – Since MLS gets 100% of its value from the favors USSF bestows upon it, why doesn’t USSF receive any of the $100,000,000.00 franchise fees paid to MLS?
      Clearly MLS is benefiting from USSF, but is USSF benefitting from this arrangement? Follow the money, it should be interesting.
      For the love of God, can we get some journalists that actually conduct some research — besides Liviu Bird.

    • Downtown Dave

      September 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

      What about it? It’s their business. Can’t MLS pretty do what it damned well pleases?

  8. Tim

    September 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    I am going to predict the future. Pro/rel will never happen(i hope im wrong but i dont see it). The NASL will not be granted D1 and USL will be granted D2. Teams will then jump ship to USL(SA, Carolina, Ft Lauderdale, etc) leaving NASL with less teams and lead to its eventual collapse. I base this info on nothing and its just speculation.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      September 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      That Tim is a scenario others also are talking about. It’s certainly plausible.

  9. Kevin D

    September 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    If the Judicial system rules against NASL essentially allowing for an illegal monopoly, a system that eliminates competition (impacting not only NASL but sponsors, players, etc.), then DoJ’s focus on FIFA’s illegal activity is bull****. That said NASL is cooked regardless of the ruling.

    • Chris G

      September 2, 2015 at 11:02 am

      You can’t blame the DOJ for the actions of the federal judiciary. That’s like blaming the District Attorney for the local court’s rulings. I do agree with you on one thing, though: there is no way this situation ends well for the NASL.

  10. CTBlues

    September 1, 2015 at 8:06 am

    USSF has no spine and just does what MLS “owners” tell them to do and since MLS is a business MLS does what is good for MLS first instead of what is good for the game in this country. MLS wants to go be the only game in town just like the rest of the professional leagues in the US/Canada with middling leagues that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Don’t give me that they teamed up with USL to help develop soccer. Yes they teamed up with them and now they are stabbing them in the back with MLS teams ending their agreements with USL teams to form their own USL teams. Pretty soon the USL is just going to be MLS’s minor league like baseball and all the independent USL teams are going to be left flapping in the wind and will be like the Independent regional baseball leagues.

  11. Giancarlo

    August 31, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    You failed to mention that the USSF, and henceforth the NASL is tied to Article 66 of the FIFA Statutes. “FIFA recognises the independent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with headquarters in Lausanne (Switzerland) to resolve disputes between FIFA, Members, Confederations, Leagues, Clubs, Players, Officials, intermediaries and licensed match agents.” and the prohibition to use standard court systems in the federation’s country (Art. 68 of the FIFA Statutes).

    • Nick

      September 1, 2015 at 1:21 am

      The NASL is spinning a ton of disinformation. This is not about the “good of soccer”, improving the pyramid or about pro/rel, it is about money and a shortcut to their clubs being treated, and valued, as Major League.

      To date the NASL has been left to flounder on its own. But trying to realize their aspirations via the courts could end up very badly for them even if they “won”. Filed under the heading of be careful of what you wish for, If the situation were really turned into an open competition, what would stop MLS from strategically moving into their markets with either USL or MLS teams.

      Also, FIFA frowns on Leagues attacking their member Federations and would be in a position to remove the League’s sanctioning and you can guess how long the NASL would last without it.

      • Alan Smithee

        September 1, 2015 at 6:56 am

        They’re not doing that now with Minnesota and Atlanta?

        • Kartik Krishnaiyer

          September 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm

          NASL has done the same thing to itself by placing a Miami team in direct competition with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Same media market. Same TV stations. Same radio stations. Same newspapers. Same everything.

          Keep in mind in Minnesota it is the NASL team that elected to chase MLS expansion. They won the bid and are moving leagues in a few years. This move for D1 potentially devalues their move and expansion fee they will pay.

      • soccerreform

        September 1, 2015 at 11:06 am

        NASL in a Co-D1 situation is a very messy and unsustainable proposition from every angle. Like delivering pizza to MLS interns.

  12. Matt McLeskey

    August 31, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    What about the Cosmos? Their future in this mess seems difficult to predict due to their unique place in the league (brand prestige, more funds, and a strong roster compared to other teams).

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      September 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Right I think the Cosmos desire to protect its brand, TV and merchandising rights led directly to joining the NASL instead of MLS (For example NASL has allowed the Cosmos to not participate in the league’s ESPN3 deal exempting the team who have kept home games behind a pay wall at One World Sports a company that shares an owner with the Cosmos) Then they needed a league that was it least in theory equal to MLS to leverage those rights they kept. So this lawsuit is in some ways a logical outgrowth of the Cosmos branding protection needs.

  13. Matt McLeskey

    August 31, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    What NASL teams would MLS be interested in besides San Antonio, New York Cosmos, and perhaps Indy Eleven? Wouldn’t adding multiple teams after an already busy few years of expansion be risky? I can see where MLS might be interested in the Cosmos’ name cache, but they balked at MLS in the past and Don Garber has been quoted as saying that no plans exist for a third franchise in the NYC metro area. It’s easy to see the rest being absorbed into the USL or folding altogether.

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      San Antonio and Indy are the major ones. The rest would either be killed off by MLS expansion (ATL, MIA), join the USL, or fold all together.

      • Tob Powell

        September 1, 2015 at 12:11 am

        In all the mess USL small clubs will be killed off too and there are plenty as they would never be able yo afford upwards $100 million yo enter MLS.

        • Tob Powell

          September 1, 2015 at 12:19 am

          It’s cheap to start up USL club under $1 million and have a high school baseball stadium to play on.

          • Chris G

            September 1, 2015 at 7:57 am

            USL expansion fee is now over $2million

  14. CTBlues

    August 31, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I don’t like the fact how they are virtually eliminating pro/related for good with these new rules to be considered D1. I think there should be pro/rel down the road. If you look at the Bundesliga first division there is one team in what used to be East Germany the rest are in the old West Germany.

  15. Roger

    August 31, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Been for pro/rel I am very sympathetic of NASL fight. Yet, I am not sure they are using the best strategy.

    US soccer establishment is hypocrite because they have forced an “american system” down our throats, turning their back on meritocracy internally; yet they adhere to our game’s culture of meritocracy when they send MLS best franchises to CCL. Also when the USMNT plays WC qualifiers, guess what principle is in practice?! I’m sure you get the point.

    What’s the best way to expose such hypocrisy?

    Well, I think pro/rel is about inclusion, a core value of our game. So, when NASL focus on fighting to get D1 status(which I support since divisional status without p/r is ridiculous), but do not practice inclusion in order to grow their league, aren’t they doing something similar to what our status quo does? Which is taking ( or trying to take) advantage of our game culture of inclusion and meritocracy, but ignoring the rightfulness and application of such principles in a bigger context.

    What if NASL implements the principles of the game within their context, and leads by example?
    What if NASL just puts into practice that openness that our game should be all about?
    How could they do that? Its actually not that complicated!

    Existing teams are grandfathered, and announce that from now on, starting next season
    NASL is open to any team that meats a certain, openly public criteria; that’s it!
    Once you hit a desired number of teams, you go to a second phase in which you either:

    A) create your own 2nd div, or
    B) work something out with NAPSL.

    If the NASL becomes the only soccer league in the US that is open and meritocratic:
    -it automatically becomes the more legit US soccer league(regardless of USSF dirty bs)
    -US fans will support you,
    -May get huge International support
    -and you will give Fifa leverage to get on USSF face.

    Once you have a position of power, then you fight(Art of War)

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    ― R. Buckminster Fuller

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Here’s the dirty little secret about promotion/relegation in Europe: it’s an illusion. A smokescreen. You think teams move up and down in Europe due to good coaching and player development? Please. Unless you’re a yo-yo club, a big club that goes belly-up or a small club that gets an angel investment from someone with nothing better to do with his money, there is very little promoting and relegating in European soccer. The clubs find the levels they’re best suited for and that’s where they stay. TSG Hoffenheim didn’t earn their way into the Bundesliga with good coaching. They bought their way in, just as NYCFC bought their way into MLS. Leeds United didn’t get relegated because their academy wasn’t generating any talent. They got relegated because their owners financially ruined the team, just like Chivas USA’s owners did.

      If you’re a good player on a lower level team, you don’t stick around and help that team get promoted. You get bought by a premier level team. If you’re a bad player on a top level team, you don’t drag the team down and potentially get them relegated. You get loaned out or outright sold to a lower level team. The only people in Europe that truly get promoted and relegated on a large scale are players, not teams. Sounds an awful lot like a minor-league system. The difference is that the pro/rel system holds the lure of a big payday for lower level clubs who buy their way into the premier division and the specter of financial death for teams in the top division who don’t spend enough money to stay in the top. The result is all the clubs spending themselves into bankruptcy unless there’s some kind of strict centralized financial control a la the Bundesliga. That’s the kind of system for which you are advocating. One that until FFP was introduced was leading European soccer to a financial abyss.

      • Kevin D

        September 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

        great point. but there is always the hope that Man United is relegated to English Championship League.

    • Arnie k.

      August 31, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      MLS is playing fire by spending all its new dough an foreign has-beens. This isn’t England.
      As an experience, the money should first go into stadiums if the smaller clubs are to be taken seriously. Our local team plays in a baseball outfield: horrible fan experience.

      Build it and they will come.

      The USSF is poorly run and they now have no solution for the current disagreements since they only thought of the d-1 league and the National teams.

      (The place of College soccer is a big problem needing a solution as well. )

      • steve

        September 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

        Based on your first paragraph, it looks like you are in NY. There’s another team there that doesn’t waste money on has-beens, has a world class stadium and is leading the league in PPG. Check them out! 🙂

    • hydrahamster

      September 1, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Make sense to me and I feel the same way. The NPSL already said they are for merging with the NASL recently, but I know for a fact some NASL clubs are not going to be happy about that. It’s MLS and USSF versus traditional soccer. I want the NASL to win because I want to see a larger player pool and a end to the Americanized way. The NASL have both American and FIFA’s laws on they’re side.

      • R

        September 1, 2015 at 1:03 am

        What FIFA laws help NASL here? The USSF is the officially sanctioned body for the US and are allowed to administer the game there.

        • hydrahamster

          September 1, 2015 at 1:25 am

          There are FIFA rules and guidelines that each league must follow. FIFA don’t just organize events.

          • R

            September 1, 2015 at 11:41 am

            So what are the rules? You didn’t answer the question.

        • soccerreform

          September 1, 2015 at 10:17 am

          The last time we had two leagues competing for top flight, FIFA stepped in. (1967)

          Is FIFA too weak to step in should that be the outcome? Another good reason to get Sepp out of Dodge ASAP.

    • Roger

      September 2, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      On a second thought, the USSF, MLS, SUM relationship is VERY incestuous.
      Without exclusive d1 status protecting MLS franchise’s value, the whole ponzi scheme falls down like a house of cards; [USSF/MLS/SUM(the cartel as Fifpro rightfully called them once)] cannot afford to jeopardize MLS privileges.

      If we also consider that:

      – Fifa’s articles prohibit to use standard court systems in the federation’s country and disputes should be resolved in Lausanne (Switzerland) (as Giancarlo pointed in his comment)
      -Fifa has hinted discomfort with lack of p/r in the US.
      -the recent DOJ indictments totally humiliated Fifa.
      – this action sets the USSF and Fifa on a collision course.

      My point? Maybe NASL knows very well what is doing; maybe they are on a position of power.

      • Downtown Dave

        September 12, 2015 at 10:22 am

        Or maybe they’re in bed with criminals! Oh wait that’s not the case anymore – I saw that press release a few months back.

  16. alex gago

    August 31, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    It’s called the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 which forces competition and eliminates anti completive of monopolies an industry such as MLS has done with s single entity soccer business. NASL lawyers would never have filed a motion against US SOCCER especial how their marketing agreement between them. NASL has a great case here.

    • Tob Powell

      August 31, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Alex, I agree with you this case is strictly about US Soccer anti competitive new D2 standards and violate the Commerce Act. NASL a business will be forced to go out of business.Therefore, one thing is for certain the soccer pyramid will change.

  17. seth israel

    August 31, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t watch MLS because my club Fort Lauderdale Strikers are in the NASL. If NASL folds and Strikers fold I’m done supporting American soccer and I will never watch Orlando or David team in Miami.

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      If the NASL folds, the clubs (other than the Cosmos) will be fine. They’ll find homes either in MLS or in the USL. We’re at a point in American pro soccer where the collapse of a league doesn’t mean the end for the league’s clubs.

    • D Rom

      October 26, 2015 at 10:29 am

      That’s ridiculous. I’m a Striker Liker as well and even though FTL is in the NASL, I still watch the MLS which is so much fun when you have no “horse in the race”. Being a proud Miami guy, I’d instantly welcome a Miami MLS team, provided that it’s ran competently. You shouldn’t root against the growth of US association soccer in any case. You’re pretty much cutting your nose off to spite your face. If you care about the sport, you’d root for the top league to keep growing. The NASL should keep trying to make it’s own strides at it’s own pace, instead of trying to pole-vault it’s superior. it’s counterproductive.

  18. Paul Scanling

    August 31, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t MLS own the brand names of all of the franchises? If so, there is no real way to take a current MLS team and have them leave the league for another league.

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      MLS owns all the teams, which are then run by the league’s investors who are often incorrectly referred to as the teams’ owners (correct term is investor-operator). You’re right. The only way pro/rel can happen at the top level of American soccer is if MLS was completely dissolved and a new league was formed to replace it. Considering how successful the league has been and how fast it’s growing, there is virtually no chance that happens.

      • hydrahamster

        September 1, 2015 at 12:30 am

        There is a chance. MLS could run into the problem of over expanding with it’s clubs and they are burning to many bridges with the youth leagues and lower divisions outside from the USL. The onky thing keeping MLS alive is fan support and the USSF, however, what’s killing them is poor management, spending and corruption within the soccer pyramid.

        • Adam

          September 1, 2015 at 8:28 am

          Fan support, lucrative sponsorships, and ever-improving TV deals, you meant to say.

      • John Harbour

        September 1, 2015 at 7:31 am

        I am a proponent of pro/rel but it just can’t happen in MLS. By the time we have the infrastructure to properly support the system, MLS will be much stronger and they’re not going to give up the money. I think the NASL is running out of time.


        • soccerreform

          September 1, 2015 at 10:13 am

          Well, John… stop trying to make pro/rel work “in” MLS. Clearly it’ll only work outside of MLS.

          • Downtown Dave

            September 12, 2015 at 10:15 am

            You may be correct. It may work in the MINORS. You know, like NASL.

    • soccerreform

      September 1, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Depending on which attorney you talk to… you’re dead on. The only way I see to get MLS outlets into an open system is to purchase their freedom from single entity.

      How much will MLS charge?

  19. Jordy

    August 31, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I’m curious to know what MLS teams you would consider choosing NASL over their spot in MLS? Smaller markets, maybe?

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      The small teams would be the least likely to join MLS. The revenue sharing they get from the big teams is what keeps them afloat and competitive. If by some farcical miracle the NASL were to convince a team from MLS to leave it would be a larger team moving to a league where they can keep all their revenue. But, as pointed out below, the single-entity model of MLS makes this scenario impossible.

    • John Harbour

      September 1, 2015 at 7:28 am

      MLS teams would not be able to choose as the are owned my MLS. They are franchised to the investor/owners. The players, too, are contracted to MLS and not the individual teams.

  20. yespage

    August 31, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    So anyway, I bought a Ford recently and I want people to think it is a Mercedes Benz because I want the value of my vehicle to go up. I’m going to sue Car and Driver magazine.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 31, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Great analogy. NASL owners have bought in from somewhere between 750k and 2.5m in the last five years. MLS teams have gone for 35m-100m in the same period. Just for some perspective.

    • start making sense

      August 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      that is a terrible analogy

      • yespage

        September 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

        Well, the Car and Driver part is a stretch, but you need to stretch sometimes with humor. The NASL owners want to pretend they bought into a major league. They didn’t.

  21. Len

    August 31, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Kartik, the pacific time zone requirement for NASL was ammended last year in Feb and is not a requirement yet for this year(2015) so NASL does in fact meet current D2 standards there.

    Official capacity of Atlanta and Edmonton’s stadiums are also 5K and meet the standards.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 31, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Yes you are correct. So they have one more year. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 31, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      As for the “official” capacity that’s a canard. Count the seats in both buildings. Atlanta isn’t even close. Edmonton I am not sure. Have not been there since 2011 and they were playing at another place then.

      • Steven Sandor

        August 31, 2015 at 10:04 pm

        4,500 at Clarke Field.

        • Len

          August 31, 2015 at 10:44 pm

          FCE claims standing room puts them at 5K according to quote’s in news archives I’ve read in the past.

  22. soccerreform

    August 31, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Does NASL want pro/rel? Then they’ll fight to overturn the entire closed pyramid as the bogus trust arrangement it is. There is virtually no point or precedent for divisional sanctions without open leagues.

    Once the sanctions are lifted, we can get to work building an open pyramid, and inviting all to join. MLS will obviously refuse, and smart NASL owners will dive right in, increasing the value of their properties by leaps and bounds.

    Are NASL owners willing to grow their equity this way and leave us with a proper system – and be heroes? Or will they wuss out?

    We’re fixing to find out.

    • Chris G

      August 31, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      If division sanctioning is removed, the NASL gets exactly what it wants: open competition for the top flight of American soccer. MLS would be completely within their rights as a business to eliminate its competition. The NASL would not fare well in a war with MLS. MLS is far too well financed and popular for the NASL to have any hope of survival if there was an open war between the leagues. All the NASL teams will either be poached by MLS (MNU) or outright killed off by MLS expansion (ATL). What legitimate partners do the NASL have for pro/rel? USL? They’re solidly in the MLS camp. The NPSL? They have maybe 3-5 well run teams. The rest are little more than social clubs for a few soccer fans meeting for pickup games. If you think there is any way this whole clusterfuck ends well for the North American Soccer League, you’re even more delusional than I thought.

      • Roger

        August 31, 2015 at 10:13 pm

        3-5 well run teams is all it takes for pro/rel to work.

        • Tim

          September 1, 2015 at 8:07 am

          Please explain.

          • Roger

            September 1, 2015 at 10:37 am

            Nowhere in the world all 2nd division teams are on par with the ones on first division, yet p/r works as only the top teams are promoted. If a promoted team does not perform good enough in its new division, it will most probably get relegated again. p/r is a self-correcting mechanism.

            Consider also that Pro/Rel could be implemented in many different ways.
            If NASL & NAPSL work it out, which would be the best way to do it?

            They will have to consider some factors:
            A) NASL needs to increase its number of teams
            B) NASL needs geographical balance
            C) There is big disparity between their teams in terms of teams size, finances, etc(as mention before here)

            The trickiest issue IMO is the geographical unbalance(A), yet not impossible to resolve. For A & C the Japanese approach needs a good look, as they solved those issues very smoothly.

            • Tim

              September 1, 2015 at 2:47 pm

              See that was a much better approach than of your counterpart(Ted). Thank you.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        September 1, 2015 at 9:02 am

        The NPSL idea is a non-starter for years IMO. That league isn’t even close to producing enough well-run clubs to be in a real PRO/REL setup. 5-7 years from now.

        • Roger

          September 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

          Your point is valid Kartic thought I disagree.

          If they were to automatically promote 3 teams x season, of course they are not ready.
          but, what if they promote only 1? &
          what if that promotion is not automatic but play-off format?

          In other words, p/r is (among other things) a regulating valve that could be open as wide or narrow as conditions require.

          another issue that IMO is highly missrepresented (as in “Im in favor but it will take X number of years”) , is that meritocracy does not start when the first team is either promoted or relegated, but when the door is open.

    • Flyvanescence

      August 31, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Ted i love what you fight for but youve been ranting and raving, using the same rhetoric, and picking pointless fights for years; have you accomplished anything?

      • soccerreform

        September 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

        Sure have. We’ve gone from virtually zero engagements on pro/rel to hundreds of thousands a month. Two leagues and one USMNT coach are on record for pro/rel. Talking about pro/rel has probably played a critical role in keeping NASL viable through the blizzard of bad press around Traffic.

        There’s a quantifiable and lasting surge in US pro/rel debate, and I’m proud to help drive it.
        If you’re waiting for the revolution to be televised by those whose paychecks depend on preempting it, you’re doing it wrong.

        Never been a more important time to stand up.

        • Downtown Dave

          September 12, 2015 at 10:11 am

          Why yes, I am a hero, and I’ll be the first to tell you that.


    • Joe

      August 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      “Increase there values”?? You are delusional. Yup pro/rel means instant increase in value…prove it. There is a rational conversation to be had here but you and your agendas need to stick to Twitter with the other zealots that don’t have a clue.

  23. Chris G

    August 31, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I just don’t see how this ends well for the NASL. Either way this turns out, they’ve pissed off every major organization and official in American soccer. MLS could easily run the NASL out of American soccer completely. This war with the USSF/MLS will destroy the NASL.

  24. Flyvanescence

    August 31, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    As someone who loves to use the term “delusions of grandeur”, thats exactly how i feel about this.

    I hate the MLS and everything about its convolutedness, and want to see the NASL do well, but they need to just shut up and make some progress themselves and stop trying to topple the beast when there is way more chance of it just stepping on them at this point. Every time i hear something from them i just shake my head.

    • R

      September 1, 2015 at 1:12 am

      I want a healthy 2nd division, but I’m convinced the current NASL leadership is the right way. At this point, I’m rooting for the league to die a quick death so USL can absorb most of the teams and take over the 2nd division.

  25. Blue Lou

    August 31, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    The next thing I read about NASL management that doesn’t demonstrate delusions of grandeur will be the first. Quit doing business with criminals and get real.

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