The beleaguered North American Soccer League (NASL) is cancelling the 2018 season in the wake of an appeals court loss last week, with three remaining squads set to participate in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) this year.
It’s been a rough offseason for the NASL, which was denied Division II status in the U.S. soccer pyramid by the United States Soccer Federation in September 2017 after the league failed to meet specific criteria (less than 12 teams, smaller stadiums, etc.) and playing at Division II on a provisional basis in 2017. NASL had sued USSF over the demotion and sought an immediate injunction. That failed, and NASL appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; that appeal failed last week, although the original lawsuit will proceed.
In the course of this action, NASL shrank from the eight teams participating in 2017 to four: Indy Eleven and North Carolina FC defected to the USL, and FC Edmonton and San Francisco Deltas folded. That technically leaves four members — Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, New York Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC, though Puerto Rico FC played all its “home” games in New York City after Hurricane Maria — with active membership.
The league had earlier announced it would play a European schedule, with the 2018 season beginning in September. That may work in Miami, but it’s a pretty unrealistic option for the New York Cosmos. That plan is dead, and league officials say they’ll regroup for 2019 while seeking relief in the courts on a number of fronts, according to NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal:
“The focus of the antitrust suit to date has been obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season. Unfortunately, with USSF’s decision and the loss of the preliminary injunction, playing the 2018 Season is no longer a possibility. The focus of the antitrust suit now shifts to securing the long-term advancement of soccer in this country, not only for the NASL, but for all soccer fans, clubs, and communities impacted by the USSF’s restrictions on competition. Also, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer. The NASL and its clubs will look at all avenues to return to the field for the 2019 Season.”
In the meantime, Miami FC, New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada FC will compete in 2018 in the semi-pro NPSL, a move that was already announced by Jacksonville Armada FC Robert Palmer. Still to come: announcements from San Diego and Orange County ownerships about their plans. The San Diego group, in particular, had held off making a final commitment to NASL until the state of the league was settled, suggesting that a USL gig was possible.
Image courtesy NASL.
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