The extreme makeover of the North American Soccer League (NASL) continues, as Commissioner Bill Peterson — who was invisible over the weekend when the league announced a provisional Division II status for 2017 — announces his departure.
Rishi Sehgal, Director of Business Development and Legal Affairs, will become Interim Commissioner of what owners are calling the “new NASL.”
Peterson was NASL commissioner since 2012, a period that saw the NASL add some strong franchises and owners while also dealing with the fallout generated by the collapse of Traffic Sports USA, one of the league’s major backers. With Traffic Sports now totally extracted from NASL ownership, the league is poised for yet another transitional period. In a statement, Peterson spoke well of his time with the NASL:
The last four years have been incredibly exciting and challenging. The league and clubs accomplished so much during this time and I am very proud to have been a part of it. I am especially proud of the effort and accomplishments of so many others along the way. There is a lot of work still to be done and now is the time to allow someone else to come in and lead the next phase of development for the NASL. I would like to thank the owners, clubs, coaches, players, sponsors, staff, and fans for all of their support and I wish the NASL much success in the future.
As noted, Peterson’s departure was foretold this weekend when North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik stepped up to address the league’s Division II provisional status instead of Peterson. In addition, it was up to Malik to announce that the league would move forward with eight teams in 2017 and perhaps 2018, rather than Peterson, who had held out immediate expansion for 2017. In a statement, NASL owners said expansion would be addressed in a more deliberate manner:
The new NASL will have three priorities going forward. It will continue its responsibility to work collaboratively with soccer stakeholders across North America to help grow the game. Second, the league will take a more prudent approach to expansion with a more rigorous vetting process by creating an Expansion Committee. Lastly, there will be a focus on long-term growth and as such, the NASL has begun implementing financial sustainability measures to grow the league. To achieve these priorities, the NASL will be investing in the leadership, skills, and capabilities required to maximize its potential.
As the NASL enters the 2017 season, club owners are more committed than ever to enhancing the experience and excitement for soccer fans in North America for years to come.
As noted, the NASL will operate with eight teams in 2017 while U.S. Soccer Federation evaluates the future of the American soccer pyramid. Both the NASL and USL were awarded Division II status for 2017 on a provisional basis, giving all involved a chance to work out a game plan for 2018 and the future.
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Image of Bill Peterson courtesy NASL.