Despite recent reports indicating the team’s demise, New York Cosmos chairman Seamus O’Brien says the club is not in heading for a long-term shut down.
Over the last few weeks, doubts have been casts about whether the Cosmos will survive as a franchise. They no longer have an agreement to play at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, and have been reported to be shedding operations through releasing players and coaches.
This has been occuring in the backrdrop of the NASL’s own issues, as the league has lost Minnesota to the MLS, Tampa Bay and Ottawa to the USL, and could be on the verge of losing more as additional teams either fold or follow Tampa Bay and Ottawa to the USL. O’Brien says that the shrinking number of teams is factoring into the team’s decisions, and downplays the notion that the Cosmos will go dark for the long haul.
According to O’Brien, realigning to the USL is not a move that is on the Cosmos’ radar. However, he is also clear in not wanting to field a team in 2017 if the NASL continues to shrink. More from The Guardian:
The flailing NASL has been trying for some time to convince the Cosmos to reverse their stance and join their ranks. Interestingly enough, the Cosmos haven’t, to date, officially withdrawn their stake in the league.
However, O’Brien remains firm in his current course. Unless the league somehow manages a miracle and acquires 12 teams for the coming campaign, the Cosmos will not be back under the league umbrella. The brand, O’Brien says, is too important to allow to compete in a dying league. And he is prepared to sit out the coming storm to calculate his next move.
“There are a number of folks with the NASL, many of my colleagues there that believe in the future. It’s not that we don’t believe in the future of the league – it’s just that we can’t play in a seven-team league,” O’Brien said. “As a business, you’ve got to react to that. And that is what we have done. We are trying to tidy everything up as professionally as we can in the interim and look for how to move forward, that’s what we are here to do.”
So where does this all leave the Cosmos? O’Brien says that he has no intention of selling his stake in the club and insists his partners in Sela are still as committed as ever to the project. “This isn’t going away as some people may want us to. We are not,” a confident O’Brien declared. “We are going to take a step back, look at all of our options, and decide what we will do moving forward.”
When the Cosmos began play in the NASL in 2013, it was clear that the franchise had its eyes on the MLS. However, with the MLS already setting up shop in other parts of New York and the Cosmos’ plan for a new stadium in Elmont officially scrapped, joining the MLS is likely no longer in the cards for the franchise.
Regardless, its future should become clearer in the very near future. The U.S. Soccer Federation is set to vote on the statuses of the NASL and USL soon, perhaps as early as this week.
Image courtesy New York Cosmos