After an offseason of uncertainty, the NASL is looking to have a strong 2017 and position itself for success in future seasons.
Leading up to this season, there were some questions about what the status of the NASL would be going forward. Minnesota United FC made the jump to the MLS, while the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa shifted to the USL, moves that came as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Ray OKC faced uncertain futures. Ultimately, the U.S. Soccer Federation granted the NASL and USL provisional Division II status, with the NASL moving on with eight teams for the 2017 season.
Going forward, the league is still looking into options for expansion, and has sought ways to create a more thorough process. In addition, the league will have to make some major decisions to make about its leadership. Former commissioner Bill Peterson stepped down in January, and Rishi Sehgal has served in the position on an interim basis ever since.
NASL officials are expected to make a decision on the next commissioner over the next new months, and hope 2017 represents a season in which the league moves in a new direction. More from The Telegraph:
It is believed interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal will be considered for the position. An announcement is expected in May.
Keith Bruce, who was brought in as “executive transition consultant”, meanwhile, has agreed to continue his role until the end of April, establishing the vision for the league, creating a new league operating model and focusing on expansion initiatives.
For Sehgal – who stepped in following the exit of former commissioner Bill Peterson – the principal aim for the NASL this year is to “take the drama out of the boardroom and on to the pitch”.
On his new role, Sehgal told The Telegraph: “It’s been an exciting challenge. We have a lot of work to do to grow the league but it is a huge opportunity – the future of this sport is very bright.
“I’ve been with the NASL since day one and I believe we can contribute something special to the sport.
The league has also announced a media deal for 2017, announcing on Wednesday that beIN Sports and ESPN3 would be broadcast partners for the upcoming season. The eight-team lineup for 2017 will include FC Edmonton, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC, Puerto Rico FC, and the expansion San Francisco Deltas. The NASL’s spring season will begin on Saturday.
Image courtesy Indy Eleven.
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