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USSF is holding back growth of soccer


A new report from one of the most respected analyst firms in the world has sent a loud and clear message to the US Soccer Federation — by preventing promotion/relegation from happening in the United States, the USSF is holding back the growth of soccer in this country.

The Deloitte report suggests that as the MLS franchise model reaches maturity, a revised structure can advance the long-term health of the US soccer system. In doing so, US Soccer has a major opportunity to capitalize on growing US interest in soccer and stimulate further growth in the professional club game in the US. The net result would benefit fans, player development and commercial revenues.

In conducting its research for the report, Deloitte found that more than half of US soccer fans polled want to see introduction of promotion and relegation, with just 6% opposed to the move.

The bottom line is that if promotion and relegation was introduced into the US soccer league system, Deloitte believes the world’s most popular sport would reach its potential in the world’s biggest sports market.

Dan Jones, Head of the Sport Business Group at Deloitte, said of the report’s findings: “US soccer has a major opportunity to capitalize on the nation’s growing interest in soccer. We believe the introduction of promotion and relegation into the existing league system could have numerous long term benefits, including increased attendances, increased broadcast audiences, improved commercial revenue and a positive impact on both elite players and grassroots participants.

“The current closed system has served MLS well in its early years, but as it matures it is reaching member capacity, preventing further expansion. Other challenges facing the current structure include growing fan interest in overseas leagues such as the English Premier League and a stagnation in the number of players annually registered with US Youth Soccer. The number of registered players has barely risen since 2000 despite vastly increased rates of participation in high schools.

“Though the US soccer league system may not be ready for such a move immediately and its implementation may not appear urgent, the topic is worthy of greater exploration and debate. US soccer should properly consider the merits of introduction of promotion and relegation and a transition plan for its successful introduction in order to drive US soccer forward.”

Download the Professional club soccer in the USA: An analysis of promotion and relegation report to read the complete analysis.



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  1. Gazza

    November 22, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Who is giving the NASL club that has made it to MLS a $75m-$100m cash injection to acquire players? Where is this money coming from?

    And your fantasy that 2nd division has 20 teams is ….. optimistic. Next year they will be lucky to have 8 teams. In 2018 they will be history.

    • Paul

      November 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      The money will be coming from private investors and television deals. You are correct, the NASL is having potential insolvency issues, so in lieu of that we will combine the USL and NASL to form the 2nd division which will be comprised of 20 clubs. We can come up with a creative name for that division, possibly call it MISL or even leave it as USL.

  2. Paul

    November 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Here’s the deal. Period. The United States HAS to embrace the entirety of the structure and implementation of “promotion & relegation”. Especially if we want to make further progressions and develop our youth. I am surprised we haven’t embraced this concept as early as the mid 2000s. It messages and mirrors what we are all about in regards to “capitalism.” Work hard and achieve success. If you win, you get promoted, if you lose, you risk suffering a setback.
    Here is my idea that we implement in 2019-2020. There are 20 teams in the MLS. (Many of these teams like the Chicago Fire and DC United that should have been relegated years ago if we had pro/rel implemented.) There could be a 2nd tier division (NASL) with 20 teams too. This would make cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Miami earn their way into the MLS by promoting them once they came in the Top 3 in the NASL. Owners like Robert Kraft have little desire or passion to see his team New England Revolution be as successful as the (NFL) New England Patriots. This format would force the ownership to spend money and get quality talent. Also, once the NASL club has made it to the MLS they would get a $75-100 million cash injection to acquire players. One caveat, this would only work if we get on the same schedule as top-tiered European leagues.

  3. landon

    November 21, 2016 at 11:41 am

    In other news…grass is green and the sky is blue. Hey listen pay this $100 million expansion fee to MLS but you might have to play in the NASL is you fail . Hey listen pay this $2 million expansion fee to NASL and you might get to play in MLS., Tell me how this makes sense please? Also this report still says we are not ready for it in this country.

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