Home > Uncategorized > USL Situation (UPDATED WEDNESDAY AM)

USL Situation (UPDATED WEDNESDAY AM)

Some interesting reporting from our partner site, Inside Minnesota Soccer. I encourage everyone to check out this piece by Brian Quarstad.

OCTOBER 7th PM

Brian Quarstad from Inside Minnesota Soccer and David Felleroth from Triangle Offensive have two excellent updates about the situation.

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7TH AM

I have been told be a source close to the situation that despite having the USSF, TOA, MLS and USL all meeting together, a solution is not at hand and may not be achieved this week.

One scenario that could unfold is the TOA forming the breakaway league with a few more clubs who are in the middle right now, and still maintaining affiliation with USL, in an arrangement similar to how the Premier League in England still works as part of the FA and with the Football League, even though the EPL was formed by 22 clubs resigning from the Football League and setting up shop on their own.

TV contracts and marketing of the new league would be handled by the TOA, while they would maintain an association with USL. Given Traffic Sports, the owner of Miami FC’s extensive TV rights dealings with different networks including ESPN, and others, a potential breakaway league in big markets could find itself with good TV exposure. Working with the rest of the USL structure would also give the new league a legitimacy it may otherwise lack with some fans.

This solution is by no means the most possible, but is an interesting new possibility.

The original posts after the jump

Brian’s piece matches what I have learned about the breakdown in relationship between the TOA and USL’s front office in Tampa.

The breakaway league that now is likely to be pursued by Minnesota, Miami and Carolina would need to be approved by the USSF and FIFA. These approval processes could take anywhere from a month to several months, leaving the three clubs affected and its potential allies in other markets in the limbo for the start of the 2010 American calender season.

However, if the new league seeks to adhere to the international calendar, and begin play after the 2010 World Cup, the three affected clubs, in fact have plenty of time to try and put this new organization together and receive the requisite approvals.

MONDAY UPDATE:

As Brian Quarstad reported Sunday, and I can confirm Vancouver, the reigning USL First Division Champion, who knocked out Portland last night in quest of a second title will be joining the TOA in a potential breakaway league. Vancouver, I can confirm has not renewed for next season and will take their cue from the TOA as to the next step. Expect Whitecaps players to get the same email from Tim Holt that the Carolina, Miami and Minnesota players did, at the conclusion of the USL First Division Championship Series.

Montreal, the other finalist this year has yet to renew with USL for next season, but still may do so independently of the TOA per a well placed source. It is also possible that Montreal will stick with the TOA whether it is within USL or a “breakaway” league.

TUESDAY UPDATE

As reported by Brian Quarstad this morning and confirmed by email to me this evening upon my arrival in India (where I will be for the next two weeks- this however will not prevent me from reporting on the story, as I am fully online and able to call any source easily from here), the leaders of the TOA have been meeting with the USSF this week. It can also be confirmed that USL’s leadership has spoken to the USSF, and that the Federation is now very much involved in trying to resolve the dispute one way or another. Tim Holt has, I am told recently met with Sunil Gulati about the situation.

Brian also got a copy got a copy of the letter from USL to the players. See it here.

We are told that all the parties will meet together with the USSF and a representative from MLS present as well. This meeting should have taken place today, and very well may have: we could see more on Wednesday from all parties.

We can also report that additional PDL clubs are now positioning themselves for possible alignment with the TOA, depending on this weeks developments with the USSF. So any assumption that the only clubs that are unahppy with the current structure of USL have already been accounted for publicily is incorrect.

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  1. John
    October 3, 2009 at 11:39 am | #1

    1- It is simply irresponsible of all parties to have not worked this out, although I tend to see the TOA’s point of view. You must have an owner run league, but they should have worked with NuRock to ensure a phased in owner driven league.
    2- Where is the USSF in all of this?
    3- Does this affect PDL and the real good work of USL in player development?
    4- Will these TOA teams follow the MLS business model of putting profits and league branding over individual teams and the ability to sign and develop young players?

  2. October 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm | #2

    John :

    1- It is simply irresponsible of all parties to have not worked this out, although I tend to see the TOA’s point of view. You must have an owner run league, but they should have worked with NuRock to ensure a phased in owner driven league.

    While that may seem to be the case. I suppose all the parties have different interests and motivations and working it out which seems logical to all of us was always going to be difficult.

    2- Where is the USSF in all of this?

    Good question

    3- Does this affect PDL and the real good work of USL in player development?

    Right now it should not, although MLS may address the lack of player development on their end soon in the CBA.

    4- Will these TOA teams follow the MLS business model of putting profits and league branding over individual teams and the ability to sign and develop young players?

    The TOA teams will IMHO not follow the MLS model of marketing completely, and likely will allow teams to sign young players and develop them en masse unlike the MLS.

    But the MLS is well marketed to niche fans although the TV ratings are VERY poor, and I believe the TOA will follow some of MLS’ playbook.

  3. ZF
    October 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm | #3

    I think the TOA needs too break off. Look at USL. They don’t market properly at all. They have no market recognition even among soccer fans. No one keeps up with USL, even though so many players are being developed in the league, and they have done okay in CONCACAF. The situation is so bad that none of the top sites: Ives, Trecker, Soccernet, SI etc even cover USL.

    Heck, Ives even covers college soccer extensively. The USL has a circa early 90s logo that looks cheezy and caters to small markets.

    Seriously, what can a minor league mentality achieve in Minnesota and Miami, two big time sports cities with all the major sports?

    Either the TOA achieves a breakaway or no point exists in Mn and Mia staying in business. They are as well off as independent club playing in the open cup, etc as being in usl in theirr markets. That says alot.

  4. jmb321
    October 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm | #4

    You can assume that the TOA has already applied for the USSF sanction some time ago and that this process is in motion. There are some highly motivated, smart and deep-pocketed people involved with the TOA. You would assume correctly that on 8/28 the wheels were set in motion to start a new league.

    Tim Holt is also very bright and thinking that his email sent to the 3 team’s players was disingenuous would also be wrong. I am sure there is a legal clause in the Franchise Agreement that could be interpreted in a manner whereby he could claim nullification of the contracts. Since an experienced franchise lawyer is now leading USL, you can bet this is heading to the courts.

  5. Mark
    October 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm | #5

    This is all posturing for the coutrs I feel.

    Sad as it is, Holt’s actions probably put USL on the defensive in the PR war. USL teams are not franchises like MLS where the player contracts are owned by the league, but individual clubs who pay a fee every year to join the league. They can come and go at any time and control their own player contracts and finances.

  6. October 3, 2009 at 4:47 pm | #6

    jmb321 :

    You can assume that the TOA has already applied for the USSF sanction some time ago and that this process is in motion. There are some highly motivated, smart and deep-pocketed people involved with the TOA. You would assume correctly that on 8/28 the wheels were set in motion to start a new league.

    Tim Holt is also very bright and thinking that his email sent to the 3 team’s players was disingenuous would also be wrong. I am sure there is a legal clause in the Franchise Agreement that could be interpreted in a manner whereby he could claim nullification of the contracts. Since an experienced franchise lawyer is now leading USL, you can bet this is heading to the courts.

    Yup, I suspect you are right on the money, JMB 321.

  7. John M
    October 3, 2009 at 8:11 pm | #7

    I think Tim Holt’s actions of blackmail and deception reflect poorly on USL as a league. After the slimy way they took the Nike deal with Jeff Cooper off the table and forced NuRock in, and now this, it shows Holt will do anything to hold power.

  8. jmb321
    October 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm | #8

    No, Tim is applying classic hardball business tactics that have been well thought out during the past month and maybe much longer. It may not be nice but it is legal and ethical as I am sure they have an interpretation of the Franchise Agreement that allows USL to make these claims. The new head is a franchise lawyer for goodness sake, so don’t think these are rash moves to “hold power”. And don’t worry the TOA knew what they were moving toward during the past year and have reviewed the same issues with legal counsel. The lawyers will settle this either in a court of law or as part of some broad settlement. At this point, it may look like the players are being used as pawns but keep in mind this may increase competition for pro players potentially in the near term increasing their value.

  9. Tony
    October 3, 2009 at 9:51 pm | #9

    I think this dispute has to be resolved soon. The only way it will be resolved fairly is if Gulati and the USSF step in, and do something that all parties will abide by. Whether it is a new “breakaway” league or a revamped USL with owner control, the USSF must be the decider to quote President Bush.

  10. Crappy
    October 4, 2009 at 2:20 am | #10

    I don’t get it, the players were signed by the teams not the USL. What right does Holt or the USL have to tell players they are free agents?

    I would be plenty pissed if I was the management of any of these teams. I wonder what the Impact and Vancouver ownerships told USL today? “Don’t you dare email my players!” Classic.

  11. October 4, 2009 at 10:40 am | #11

    Crappy!

    I totally agree with your post; the USL had no business contacting the players.

  12. Johnson Creek
    October 4, 2009 at 10:57 am | #12

    I think the TOA owners are just pissed off that they did not get to purchase USL, and now they want to take their marbles and go home. This ultimately is not about any league, USL or otherwise, it is about the individual teams making money. The question you need to ask is how many of the owners in the TOA camp is really making any money. Miami and Minnesota have serious problems attracting fans. I am not sure about Carolina.

    I would bet that USL did what they legally needed to do to start focusing on the upcoming season. Isn’t one of the owners a franchise attorney?

    This is purely a business move, I would bet.

  13. nathan3e
    October 4, 2009 at 11:37 am | #13

    ZF :
    The situation is so bad that none of the top sites: Ives, Trecker, Soccernet, SI etc even cover USL.
    Heck, Ives even covers college soccer extensively. The USL has a circa early 90s logo that looks cheezy and caters to small markets.

    This is a good point. Soccernet does Matchtrackers for Conference matches yet the USL presence on this gigantic site is essentially zero. It’s pitiful.

  14. the real macoy
    October 4, 2009 at 11:47 am | #14

    jmb321 :No, Tim is applying classic hardball business tactics that have been well thought out during the past month and maybe much longer. It may not be nice but it is legal and ethical as I am sure they have an interpretation of the Franchise Agreement that allows USL to make these claims. The new head is a franchise lawyer for goodness sake, so don’t think these are rash moves to “hold power”. And don’t worry the TOA knew what they were moving toward during the past year and have reviewed the same issues with legal counsel. The lawyers will settle this either in a court of law or as part of some broad settlement. At this point, it may look like the players are being used as pawns but keep in mind this may increase competition for pro players potentially in the near term increasing their value.

    don’t worry the TOA knew what they were moving toward during the past year and have reviewed the same issues with legal counsel. you must be their legal counsel or a member of the TOA..more likely a lying puppet to make claims like that. Minnesota playing soccer in Sept.-May format..please. If these club have such deep pocket why are they losing money, no getting fans and owe money like the Thunder do here in St.Paul…these guys act like spoiled rich kids. but Miami boy is an employee and does own the team…the carolina owner purchased the team for his son and now enjoys the spotlight himself too much..read! the research is on the web…

  15. October 4, 2009 at 11:52 am | #15

    Crappy :

    I don’t get it, the players were signed by the teams not the USL. What right does Holt or the USL have to tell players they are free agents?

    I would be plenty pissed if I was the management of any of these teams. I wonder what the Impact and Vancouver ownerships told USL today? “Don’t you dare email my players!” Classic.

    Holt is playing these players and their agents and smartly, IMHO. We’ve been indoctrinated with the MLS system of single entity in the soccer culture in this country and while some players signed with USL by design to avoid that system, many did not and may not now the legalities involved in USL teams being independent clubs that handle contracts, etc.

  16. October 4, 2009 at 11:56 am | #16

    nathan3e :

    ZF :
    The situation is so bad that none of the top sites: Ives, Trecker, Soccernet, SI etc even cover USL.
    Heck, Ives even covers college soccer extensively. The USL has a circa early 90s logo that looks cheezy and caters to small markets.

    This is a good point. Soccernet does Matchtrackers for Conference matches yet the USL presence on this gigantic site is essentially zero. It’s pitiful.

    Soccernet does a weekly USL-1 wrap up. Steven Goff covers USL on his Soccer Insider site. Ives? I have no clue why he doesn’t cover USL, and seemingly has a contempt for it. He’s a pretty good writer otherwise, but clearly shows not only a lack of interest but I would say a disregard for the league’s existence.

    Beau Dure at the USA Today also covers USL, along with MLS and WPS.

    Some of the mainstream soccer publications however, act like USL doesn’t exist except in spots. MLS has essentially sold itself as “THE league” in the US and while that is distasteful to people like me (hence you see far more USL coverage on this site than MLS coverage because you can read about MLS in about 50 places, and based on the lowly TV ratings everyone who watches MLS runs a blog site about it) MLS has been successful in selling itself.

  17. jmb321
    October 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm | #17

    Kartik Krishnaiyer :

    Crappy :
    I don’t get it, the players were signed by the teams not the USL. What right does Holt or the USL have to tell players they are free agents?
    I would be plenty pissed if I was the management of any of these teams. I wonder what the Impact and Vancouver ownerships told USL today? “Don’t you dare email my players!”
    Classic.

    Holt is playing these players and their agents and smartly, IMHO. We’ve been indoctrinated with the MLS system of single entity in the soccer culture in this country and while some players signed with USL by design to avoid that system, many did not and may not now the legalities involved in USL teams being independent clubs that handle contracts, etc.

    Kartik,
    As I suspected it is not a play but real tactics…Allegedly this was part of Tim’s email to the players.. the players’ contract reads that “Should the Club fail to operate a professional soccer team within USL, this contract shall be terminated.” I believe part of the USL Franchise Agreement requires franchisees to use contract terms and wording specified by the USL. Therefore, since the teams are no longer in the USL officially the contracts may be nullified. Advantage – USL.

    Real maccoy,
    I am not a lawyer nor a member of the TOA or USL and have no “skin in the game” at this time. I am a VERY interested party with a little bit of insight into how these type of matters have developed. Also tried to be evenhanded after reading the web based research. I am a firm believer that however negative this seems right now that in the long run it will be positive for pro soccer in the US. My premise is that competition is good and there is no such thing as bad publicity. And please don’t equate this situation to the time in the late 20′s and 30′s when competing pro soccer leagues run as adjuncts to core businesses subverted the sport for 40+ years in the US. The current closer proximity to the ideal of the transmission of perfect knowledge through the internet and other information mediums makes that analogy fallacious.

  18. Soccer Guru
    October 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm | #18

    I think the heavy handed tactics Holt and Marcos used to keep control of USL with these NuRock stools need to be exposed. Bottom line: The clubs in bigger markets are looking to breakaway because the league’s lack of promotion and willingness to work with owners makes any team specific marketing a futile effort without a buy in or an established brand.

    the TOA Breakaway will instantly have more credibility than USL.

  19. Florida Goal
    October 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm | #19

    The Rowdies from what I understand are very much with the TOA and the Breakaway league. The Tampa owners are young and aggressive and they are looking to be able to market forcefully locally and have a league that has a brand that will bring out people in the market.

    USL has shot itself in the foot with its actions. The league would have been strong and able to challenge MLS on some fronts under Jeff Cooper and the TOA’s leadership. Instead, they have resorted to name-calling, and turf war.

    Pathetic.

  20. October 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm | #20

    Kartik,
    As I suspected it is not a play but real tactics…Allegedly this was part of Tim’s email to the players.. the players’ contract reads that “Should the Club fail to operate a professional soccer team within USL, this contract shall be terminated.” I believe part of the USL Franchise Agreement requires franchisees to use contract terms and wording specified by the USL. Therefore, since the teams are no longer in the USL officially the contracts may be nullified. Advantage – USL.

    Wow, good catch on the USL Franchise Agreements and contracts. That shows Holt is smarter than many think and also had long ago consulted with his attorney(s) about this issue.

  21. October 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm | #21

    My only critique of the TOA is the idea that they can play a “FIFA” calendar (of note there are literally dozens of nations that don’t play on that calendar). Minnesota in January?

    How does a soccer ball move through a few feet of snow?

    What I would like Kartik to breakdown though is how many of the USSF second tier clubs are with the TOA right nwo, how many are with NuRock right now? How many of USL-2?

    And considering that only 1 of the final 4 teams in the USSF second tier were actually in the USA, does that in some way effect the reasons why the USSF has stuck out? USL-1 has 3 teams not in the USA, and they are of the best quality in the league.

  22. Anonymous
    October 5, 2009 at 12:15 am | #22

    I find it really hilarious that a bunch of people are inclined to make all sorts of comments defending OWNERS. How funny.

    Oh, and dave clark is a clueless

  23. October 5, 2009 at 9:01 am | #23

    Dave Clark :

    My only critique of the TOA is the idea that they can play a “FIFA” calendar (of note there are literally dozens of nations that don’t play on that calendar). Minnesota in January?

    How does a soccer ball move through a few feet of snow?

    What I would like Kartik to breakdown though is how many of the USSF second tier clubs are with the TOA right nwo, how many are with NuRock right now? How many of USL-2?

    And considering that only 1 of the final 4 teams in the USSF second tier were actually in the USA, does that in some way effect the reasons why the USSF has stuck out? USL-1 has 3 teams not in the USA, and they are of the best quality in the league.

    The plan if they play on the FIFA Calender would be to break for the coldest months. Play through mid November and not resume until late February. Perhaps, play an Apertura/Cluasura format or just split the season into two halves with one table.

    TOA right now

    Minnesota
    Miami
    Carolina
    Montreal
    Vancouver
    Tampa Bay (expansion)
    Atlanta (not playing this year)

    USL/NuRock

    Charleston
    Rochester
    Cleveland
    Austin
    Portland
    Ottawa (PDL to USL-1 next year)

    Fence sitters

    Puerto Rico
    New York FC (expansion)

    I’m under the impression most USL-2 clubs are with NuRock/USL. The PDL however is a different animal, with the clubs split. Keep in mind alot of the angry PDL clubs have already bailed and joined the NPSL, but I know of many others intrigued by the TOA plans and thinking about backing them.

  24. Tony
    October 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm | #24

    I think the FIFA Calender works brialliantly if you break. It also builds legitimacy. Most see USL as a minor league anyhow- reducing USL to minor league or smaller cities where they can spread the gospel of soccer while letting the TOA handle bigger markets that require more international soccer savvy IMHO is smart.

  25. John M
    October 5, 2009 at 12:25 pm | #25

    Those siding with USL let me ask a basic, somewhat friendly question?

    HOW MANY LEAGUES AROUND THE WORLD IN ANY SPORT ARE RUN BY A GROUP OF BUREAUCRATS THAT GIVE NONE OF THE OWNERS ANY REAL SAY OR VOTE IN THE DIRECTION OR POLITIES OF THE LEAGUE?

    USL IS A ONE OF A KIND LEAGUE IN OUT OF LINE WITH FIFA MANDATES.

    THEY ARE THE ONES PLAYING WITH FIRE, NOT THE TOA.

  26. October 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm | #26

    John M :Those siding with USL let me ask a basic, somewhat friendly question?
    HOW MANY LEAGUES AROUND THE WORLD IN ANY SPORT ARE RUN BY A GROUP OF BUREAUCRATS THAT GIVE NONE OF THE OWNERS ANY REAL SAY OR VOTE IN THE DIRECTION OR POLITIES OF THE LEAGUE?
    USL IS A ONE OF A KIND LEAGUE IN OUT OF LINE WITH FIFA MANDATES.
    THEY ARE THE ONES PLAYING WITH FIRE, NOT THE TOA.

    I think their are other leagues are run by investors somewhere, but yes USL is in a small minority.

  27. Soccer Guru
    October 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm | #27

    I think Tim Holt has a lot of nerve doing this……………

  28. October 5, 2009 at 7:35 pm | #28

    I do hope that the “situation” is resolved soon. I really see no other outcome other than the TOA getting a league that conforms to FIFA rules and laws, whether that is a new USL or they form their own league. If it is on their own and without a NuRock USL then I don’t see a very bright future for NuRock Soccer Holdings.

    I would guess that a couple of those USL clubs not part of the TOA may decide to join the new league once that process is in motion. An alliance with the NPSL could move the allied PDL teams to that league.

    A look at the potential new TOA league:
    -Carolina Railhawks
    -Miami Blues
    -Minnesota Thunder
    -Montreal Impact
    -Vancouver Whitecaps
    -Atlanta Silverbacks
    -St. Louis United
    -Tampa Bay Rowdies

  29. Roger
    October 6, 2009 at 6:05 am | #29

    The new TOA league will be in the big markets, while USL is left in the smaller ones. Any wonder why we have a split? It’s essentially big market teams that need a very agressive marketing plan that wins over core soccer fans and mainstream sports fans versus small towns that have little else.

  30. ZF
    October 6, 2009 at 7:15 am | #30

    The TOA just needs to go forward and form this new league. The bluff by Holt and USL to cancel contracts they have no control over had given the TOA all the rationale they need to say USL cannot be trusted and will not work together in good faith, so goodbye.

    Long term the TOA should work with MLS and the NPSL to form a complete football pyramid, club owner developed and run, with good marketing and resources for all levels. Just ignore USL and it will wither on the vine.

  31. jmb321
    October 6, 2009 at 10:04 am | #31

    Here is a feasible solution to this mess based on blog chatter and published press reports:

    For the 2010 season, all the First Division teams will form a new league in alliance with USL. The team owners will have complete control over league strategy and commercial developmental activities including expansion and sponsorship targeting. The “new” league will pay USL/Nurock a royalty fee for use of the brand and an annual fee for administrative processing such as scheduling, registration, referee assignments etc. The First Division will be allowed to rebrand but this is unlikely to occur before the 2012 season after Portland, Vancouver and probably Montreal leave for MLS and additional expansion to top tier markets can be achieved. If the TOA lead league does not make tangible progress in their objectives by 2012 they could “rejoin” USL.

    Everybody gets a piece of the action and the team owners get the control they cherish. USL/Nurock maintains involvement in a USSF sanction second division league and the non-TOA teams and the TOA-PDL/W League affiliates remain under the USL umbrella.

    If this type of compromise does not arise a lot of money is going to lawyers and the courts with little tangible benefit to the development of soccer in the US.

    Discuss amongst yourselves…

  32. Raymond
    October 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm | #32

    Gulati is getting involved too little, too late. The second that letter from the TOA went out in late August, he should have been all over it and not allowed it to get to this point.

    Moreover, why the hell is MLS allowed in this meeting? So they can block whatever is best for these teams, so it benefits them?

  33. CoconutMonkey
    October 6, 2009 at 10:10 pm | #33

    You’ll have to forgive my ignorance with these questions. But, just how “professional” is USL-1? Are all of the players full-time contracted players? Or is there a mix between full-time professionals and semi-professionals with other jobs? Does it depend on the team? What about USL2?

    From an outsider’s perspective, I think both parties would benefit from separating. It seems like USL has a great pyramid going and is producing some real quality teams and players. But, they come up short when it comes to supporting their best clubs. Let the pure professionals handle their business, and USL can take care of the rest.

    However, my biggest fear is that USL or the proposed breakaway league, or even a possible MLS2, would simply be farm league for MLS clubs.

  34. KT
    October 7, 2009 at 11:48 am | #34

    I’m curious why Vancouver would join another league for just one year, when they’re joining MLS in 2011.

  35. jmb321
    October 7, 2009 at 11:57 am | #35

    jmb321 :
    Here is a feasible solution to this mess based on blog chatter and published press reports:
    For the 2010 season, all the First Division teams will form a new league in alliance with USL. The team owners will have complete control over league strategy and commercial developmental activities including expansion and sponsorship targeting. The “new” league will pay USL/Nurock a royalty fee for use of the brand and an annual fee for administrative processing such as scheduling, registration, referee assignments etc. The First Division will be allowed to rebrand but this is unlikely to occur before the 2012 season after Portland, Vancouver and probably Montreal leave for MLS and additional expansion to top tier markets can be achieved. If the TOA lead league does not make tangible progress in their objectives by 2012 they could “rejoin” USL.
    Everybody gets a piece of the action and the team owners get the control they cherish. USL/Nurock maintains involvement in a USSF sanction second division league and the non-TOA teams and the TOA-PDL/W League affiliates remain under the USL umbrella.
    If this type of compromise does not arise a lot of money is going to lawyers and the courts with little tangible benefit to the development of soccer in the US.
    Discuss amongst yourselves…

    Kartik,
    Your possible scenario in the Wednesday update is the essentially the same as the one I outlined a few days ago and probably the last best chance for something positive to come out of this mess. If some egos can be put aside and common sense come to bare, this would keep the lawyers away and very much be a win-win. Can this kernel of an idea be presented to the powers that be as a possible solution?

  36. Vnice
    October 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm | #36

    KT :
    I’m curious why Vancouver would join another league for just one year, when they’re joining MLS in 2011.

    Because Vancouver intends to field a team in that league even after it joins MLS. I believe their intention is that the new team would be in Victoria, BC. I think Portland is going to do something similar. In fact, several MLS teams field sides in USL, such as Chicago Fire.

  37. J
    October 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm | #37
  38. robert scorca
    October 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm | #38

    From everything I heard Puerto Rico is in the TOA group. It is impossible to put Cleveland in either the TOA or USL group as the team is up for sale and there is no way of knowing who will buy them or where they will go. Last year the USL offered them a discount fee to enter the USL. This was done at the 11th hour to create a balanced league.
    Also the split did not just occur as some people speculate. The Atlanta Silverbacks sat out in a large part due to their displeasure with the USL structure. There was also speculation about another USL1 franchise sitting out this past season. The handwriting was on the wall and the USL failed to act these problems until the TOA split.

  39. Eric
    October 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm | #39

    If the TOA cave without getting an owner run league they were all talk and no action. As far as I see it, USL continues to be in direct violation of FIFA statutes relating to club run leagues. By hiding behind the established laws of the game over a petty dispute, and then caving to those violating the laws of the game, the TOA will prove they were all talk, and attention seekers, rather than those who are trying to find a positive solution for the future of the game in North America.

  40. robert scorca
    October 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm | #40

    From everything I have heard Puerto Rico is in the TOA column. It is impossible to put Cleveland in the TOA or USL1 group as the team is up for sale. When they have an owner then we will know where they will go.
    Also some people think the TOA just happened after the sale to NuRock. Many of the club were unhappy and this was the straw that broke the camels back. The Atlanta Silverbacks sat out in a large part due to the displeasure with the current structure. There was speculation about another USL1 team sitting out. The USL chose to ignore this all year and did nothing until they were backed into a corner. As long as Francisco Marcos and Tim Holt are on board there will be problems.

  41. October 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm | #41

    Glad the USSF finally took it’s belt off.

  42. Prime
    October 7, 2009 at 10:07 pm | #42

    But did the USSF do anything, really? Doesn’t sound like anything has changed.

  43. October 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm | #43

    If the USSF does not force an OWNER CONTROLLED LEAGUE on USL, they are in fact reinforcing a violation of FIFA rules.

    That is the bottom line and non negotiable.

    Does the separate, USL affiliated breakaway League include every owners that wants owner control, or just those in large markets which will do well on TV? My hunch is alot of PDL clubs want owner control and that’s why the NPSL is around, after all.

    This is going nowhere, unless USL is either forced to let the clubs run the league or is disbanded entirely.

    Besides, the sale to NuRock was done in such a sneaky, suspicious way, I think USL is already playing with fire, and just burning itself more and more as time goes on.

  44. October 8, 2009 at 1:37 am | #44

    Kartik,
    Your possible scenario in the Wednesday update is the essentially the same as the one I outlined a few days ago and probably the last best chance for something positive to come out of this mess. If some egos can be put aside and common sense come to bare, this would keep the lawyers away and very much be a win-win. Can this kernel of an idea be presented to the powers that be as a possible solution?

    The idea is gaining traction. It will allow the owners to control their affairs, promote the league themselves, sell TV rights themselves, while maintaining an affiliation with USL for the purposes of player registration, sturcture and identity.

    It is common sense and while it is just coming to the surface now, I sense that this idea was always on the table as a half loaf measure from both sides.

  45. October 8, 2009 at 1:41 am | #45

    Prime :

    But did the USSF do anything, really? Doesn’t sound like anything has changed.

    They haven’t really done anything substantial but they forced the parties to meet, face to face. MLS, I am told played a role in this also. While some of the more snobbish MLS fans actually seem to be cheering a potential collapse of either USL or several big market clubs, I am pleased to learn MLS itself is not of that opinion, and while their involvement will probably be to find a solution in MLS’ best interest rather than that of the clubs or USL, they also acknowledge the chaos created by this situation and potential long term ramifications also aren’t good for MLS.

  46. jmb321
    October 8, 2009 at 7:03 am | #46

    The idea is gaining traction. It will allow the owners to control their affairs, promote the league themselves, sell TV rights themselves, while maintaining an affiliation with USL for the purposes of player registration, sturcture and identity.
    It is common sense and while it is just coming to the surface now, I sense that this idea was always on the table as a half loaf measure from both sides.

    You can make quite a few sandwiches from half a loaf so lets hope both parties come to the table so they both can enjoy the demi-banquet.

  47. October 8, 2009 at 6:36 pm | #47

    Any update on this, Kartik?

  48. dave
    October 8, 2009 at 11:03 pm | #48

    I have no confidence whatsoever in a “breakaway” league. Not because they’re breaking away, mind you, but because of the movers and shakers in the deal. Miami can’t draw flies, and the Silverbacks alienated a good chunk of their fanbase years ago, and ran the team into the ground with their antics. I just see a bunch of super-inflated egos who want their own way. I understand about ownership control, and they should have a say in what goes on. Nurock has been strangely quiet about all of this, and they too share some of the blame. If it were any of the stronger, stable teams who were calling the shots in TOA, I might not have a problem with it. But Miami can’t even keep its own house in order, much less run a league. Sheesh.

  49. Cali Comet
    October 9, 2009 at 12:13 am | #49

    Dave- the failure of Miami and Atlanta reflected largely on the ability of a minor league, that is marketed like a minor league and runs a closed shop in USL to attract fans in big markets with soccer savvy watchers.

    The same can be said for Minnesota where the Thunder have begun to struggle.

  50. October 13, 2009 at 12:39 am | #50

    I will preface this by saying I’ve been a supporter of the USL since 1994, first in Minnesota, now in Portland, and have had the privilege of attending the USL meetings for the past 5 years, and have actually been in some of these USL First Division meetings, so I have a little insight as to how things work. But I have no official affiliation with the USL or my local team the Portland Timbers, I am just a fan.

    First of all, I think the concept that the teams have no input into how the league is run is fundamentally false. Sure, the USL has a structure, and they keep a lot of things in-house, but many of the decisions are presented by the teams and voted on by the teams in those meetings. And of course I hear alot of complaints about the USL schedule, which is almost completely determined by the teams themselves. The only games the USL sets are the Fox Soccer Channel games. The rest is done by the teams.

    As for TV coverage, the teams do have the ability to sell all of their non FSC games to any network they want. Out here in Portland, we had Fox Sports Northwest do many of the games, and I know that Montreal, Rochester and Vancouver also have their own local broadcasts, and I’m sure I missed a few. It’s really up to the teams to handle their own promotion in this league, and if the teams aren’t up for it, then they aren’t going to succeed.

    That brings me to my point about how it’s always been my perception of how the USL is run, which is it’s a low risk, low cost league. The expansion fee for USL is somewhere around 1/50 of what it is for MLS, and that does make a difference in how much the league office is going to do for you. If these teams want an MLS-style model, they can raise their own expansion fees appropriately. But as far as my observations of how the league is run are concerned, they give the teams a structure to run in, but other than that, it’s pretty much up to the teams to run the game themselves. Some teams do that well, some teams do not, and I find it odd that the driving force of this seems to be Traffic Sports in Miami, which is one of the most poorly run clubs (if not at the bottom) in the entire league. There were Miami home games this year that literally struggled to get 100 fans in the stands. Is this the leadership the new group wants to follow?

    The only point of contention that the TOA group has that has me wondering what’s really going on is the sale by Nike of the league to the NuRock group. The accusation seems to be that the USL interfered with the sale, and if that is the case, wouldn’t this be going to court?

    But if the new league wants to try an MLS-like structure, then they are free to do so. But when the bill for doing that comes due, who is going to pay for it? I really haven’t heard much in the way of specifics about what they think the USL is doing wrong that they could do better.

    The only way I see this split-off league working is if somebody is ready to pump a lot of money into it to prop it up for as long as it takes, because the things these teams are complaining about are things that cost money, so if they want to be MLS-lite, somebody is going to have to pay the bills.

    So it will be interesting to see this group try to set up a new league with all the things they want to have in their new league, and then the inevitable “What’s that, a bill? It will be HOW much?”

  51. October 22, 2009 at 10:30 am | #51

    I’m addicted to fifa at the moment! Great post..

  52. December 29, 2010 at 8:49 am | #52

    Many thanks for your awsome post. I will keep an observation about your blog, i allready bookmarked it to personal list :)

  1. October 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm | #1
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