The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) will not debut next spring, as only three groups have successfully submitted applications to be part of the startup circuit.
The NISA effort is being spearheaded by Peter Wilt, former president and GM of the MLS Chicago Fire. He’s been meeting with groups across the country to push his vision of a D3-level independent league, linked with NASL on a delegation/relegation system. But despite meeting with many, many potential groups, only eight submitted formal applications to join the NISA. One from a Phoenix group was outright rejected, while four from Charlotte, Omaha, Milwaukee and St. Louis groups were returned with requests for more information. That leaves three accepted applications from Chattanooga, Connecticut and Miami groups.
This is not to say there’s not more interested investors: Wilt, via the league website, reports interest from 20 other markets including nine existing amateur teams and four existing professional teams.
From an open letter posted on the NISA website: “We expected to be further along confirming teams to join. The delay in securing teams has pushed NISA’s expected kickoff to post-2018 World Cup in either July 2018 or spring 2019. The delay is disappointing, because we are all anxious to get started building a new open system pyramid for American soccer. It will however, provide more time to build the foundation of the structure and gain support from all necessary sectors including fans, investors, broadcasters, sponsors, players and administrators.”
So the debut of the league is now tentatively set for July 2018 or spring 2019. The outcome of the current NASL lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation will certainly impact the NISA status; current NASL teams would be welcome to apply to the NISA, according to Wilt. Another goal for Wilt: setting up a Division IV league a la NPSL. These are some ambitious plans, to be sure.