Despite all the talk recently about the NASL adding two or three more teams for next seasons, North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik says no additional expansion teams are expected in the 2017 NASL schedule, with a eight-team circuit currently on the slate.
That would include the Jacksonville Armada FC, which is in the process of being sold to the NASL by Mark Frisch. (More on that later.) With the apparent decision to let the Fort Lauderdale Strikers rest in piece (though a 2018 return isn’t out of the question), that means the 2017 NASL lineup includes North Carolina FC, New York Cosmos, Indy Eleven, FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC, Jacksonville Armada and the expansion San Francisco Deltas. Departed: Minnesota United (to MLS), Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury (to USL).
There has been tons of chatter (much of it unfounded, as it ends up; “unnamed sources” are taken far too seriously among the American soccer media) that three new teams could be joining NASL for 2017, and upwards of 20 teams in the league lineup by 2018 — a future promulgated by Peter Wilt, who has been working on a plan to bring NASL to Chicago. And while pro soccer is a hot commodity, doubling the size of the NASL under perfect circumstances would be a tough feat. Doubling the league lineup when the circuit is operating under a provisional Division II status may be close to impossible — which is why Malik warns that the eight-team lineup may last into 2018.
Malik made his comments to WRALSportsFans.com. The interview is worth a long read.
Meanwhile, that eight-team lineup includes Jacksonville Armada, which is in the process of being sold back to the NASL. The plan is for another owner to then buy it from the league, assuming operations for the upcoming season.
Here’s the letter Frisch sent out announcing the sale:
Dear Friends, Fans, Sponsors and Supporters of the Armada:
As you may have heard, the United States Soccer Federation announced Friday that the NASL will retain its second-division status on a provisional basis for 2017. This is great news for the future of the Armada and the League in general.
Closer to home, I wanted to share with you some additional news concerning the future of the Jacksonville Armada. I currently am in talks with the NASL as they are a prospective buyer of the team here in Jacksonville. While I can’t publicly announce the details as we are currently in negotiations, I can tell you that they are committed to keeping soccer in Jacksonville.
From the start of this great adventure, it has been my goal to see professional soccer thrive in Jacksonville. We have had many exciting times enjoying Armada matches and I am working hard during this transitional period to ensure that as I look to move on from being the CEO and owner of Armada, and that I place the team and all that the Armada stands for in good hands.
As more details get ironed out and I can share additional information, I will. Until then, please know that I remain a committed soccer fan, a cheerleader for our great City of Jacksonville and forever thankful for the support and enthusiasm that the many friends, fans, sponsors and supporters of the Armada have shown over the years.
RELATED STORIES: NASL, USL Both Awarded USSF Provisional Division II status
Photo courtesy Indy Eleven.