Though the NASL is dealing with uncertainty regarding the future of several of its clubs, commissioner Bill Peterson is expressing confidence that the league can move forward.
As has been chronicled here in recent weeks, the NASL is dealing with a convergence of problems regarding franchise departures and ownership instability. Minnesota United FC is heading for the MLS, and reports have linked the Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies to a shift to the USL. Those problems, combined with seperate ownership issues for Rayo OKC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, have left the number of teams for 2017 in doubt.
The NASL has the San Francisco Deltas lined up as an expansion team for next year, but losing too many teams before next season could complicate its second-division status. Peterson, however, says that the NASL is simply going through a transition period, and one that should not prevent it from growing in the future. More from SI.com:
“No league in this country has launched and not had some expansion and contraction issues and we’re not going to be any different,” Peterson told SI.com prior to the Atlanta meetings. “I think our league is beyond—I hope its beyond—the point of anybody doubting if it’s going to be in existence. I think the model has demonstrated that it can be successful if you work hard at it, you’re passionate, you’re in the right cities.”
A previous statement from the league expressed similar sentiments, so it seems that Peterson and the league’s slate of owners are maintaining something of a unified message as the league approaches some crucial meetings. The NASL is known to be considering Chicago as an expansion market, though the latest reports indicate that a 2018 entry into the market is appearing more likely than a 2017 debut.
Image courtesy NASL.