While its status for 2018 and beyond is still being considered by the courts, the NASL has announced that it will follow the international soccer calendar for its 2018-19 season, with an August-to-June season.
The NASL is in limbo now, as the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) announced in September that the circuit would not retain its Division II status for the 2018 season, claiming it had not made sufficient progress to reach Division II criteria: 12 teams across three time zones, with minimum standards for stadium sizes, market sizes and owner net worth. The league later countered by filing an antitrust lawsuit against the USSF, alleging that the federation violated federal antitrust laws through its structure that denied Division II status. It also sought a preliminary injunction to remain a Division II league while the case unfolded, only for that request to be denied in a November ruling.
The November ruling has since been appealed, but no ruling has been issued. According to the NASL, its decision to move to the international soccer calendar is pending the outcome of the appeal. The 2018-19 season would begin in August, running through early June of 2019. A full statement from the league is below:
The North American Soccer League (NASL) announced that it will adopt the international calendar beginning with the 2018-19 Season with a planned kickoff on August 11, 2018 and conclusion on June 1, 2019. The change is pending the outcome on the NASL’s appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals. Due to the decision of the United States Soccer Federation to revoke the NASL’s Division II sanctioning, the NASL will be unable to operate the 2018 Spring Season.
The NASL and its member clubs believe that a shift to the international calendar will bring another level of excitement to fans and offer greater development opportunities for players and clubs across the country. The NASL will become the first professional league in the United States to adopt the format used by the leading soccer leagues around the world.
NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal released the following statement: “We find ourselves in a difficult position due to the Federation’s decision and the impact that decision has had on our players, fans, and front office members is unfortunate. That said, we believe the change to a fall-to-spring format will be very exciting for American soccer as it will better align the NASL with the best soccer in the world.”
The NASL will make additional announcements in the coming weeks.
Last season, the NASL played at eight teams, and its number of clubs in the immediate future remains uncertain. The San Francisco Deltas folded and FC Edmonton shut down operations for 2018, while North Carolina FC has announced a switch to the USL. Recent reports have indicated that Indy Eleven could follow North Carolina FC with a change in leagues, though nothing has been confirmed, while a 2019 launch appears to be an option for expansion 1904 FC in San Diego.
Image courtesy NASL.
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