The decision by the U.S. Soccer Federation to grant the NASL provisional Division II status for 2017 may have been a short-term clarification of where the league stands, but a lot more work remains when it comes to a long-term game plan.
Indeed: an eight-team circuit — set for 2017 and perhaps even 2018 — won’t meet USSF criteria for Division II status, putting into question the league’s future. The USL has been amazingly successful at adding strong ownership groups in good markets, but with some teams not meeting USSF Division II standards (stadium capacities, market sizes), there are some questions about that league and its status in the U.S. soccer pyramid in coming years as well.
With the departure of Bill Peterson, NASL owners are on the hunt for a new leader. Peterson had been hinting about new teams in coming seasons — additions that never materialized — and with some teams clearly in financial distress at the end of the 2016 season, owners are stepping up to establish some clear expectations for how the league will operate. When it came time to comment on the USSF provisional Division II status, North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik was the public face of the league. Now, it’s Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva to address the league’s future. It’s no secret there was a lot of politicking while the U.S. Soccer Federation was debating the future of the NASL and USL, but Silva says the politics much end, with the focus on developing the sport in America on every level:
Riccardo Silva, the Miami FC owner, told The Telegraph in a statement: “Investors need as much certainty as possible about the circumstances surrounding their investments, but the NASL was not able to provide that to potential investors over the last 12 months.
“The issues relating to Traffic caused nervousness and were a major barrier to expansion. As important, the perception that the league didn’t have a future put people off. These factors are now, thankfully, behind the league.”…
Silva added: “I’m not interested in the politics of the past and I don’t think other club owners are either. As the owner of Miami FC, I want the club to focus on one thing and one thing alone – providing a great soccer experience for fans. We are nothing without our fans.
“Indeed, I’m confident that this is the path that the NASL will take in the future – less focus on the politics of the past across US soccer and more focus on the fans at the game.”
Part of that commitment to fans includes a pitch by some NASL owners for some sort of postseason championship, pitting the NASL champ against the USL champ. It would put USL on the level as NASL — something the NASL has worked hard to prevent for years.
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