Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Would you care more about the top division?



Myself and many others out there have speculated that American soccer also having competing leagues instead of just competing clubs adds an extra layer of division for soccer fans in the United States (and Canada) that doesn't exist in nations with a single unified pyramid. Recently the Supporter Groups for Promotion and Relegation fan group ran an unscientific Twitter poll that appears to prove just that point.

While obviously the followers of this group lean heavily toward being Open Pyramid supporters they also lean heavily toward being lower division soccer fans and the exact group of people that this splitting of loyalties would most affect.


This polling data shows that it is not even close and these two tweets provide a perfect synopsis of how many feel.




This leads to the pretty simple question and answer...

Why should soccer fans in this nation be investing time and energy in to keeping up with teams in leagues outside of the one that the club/franchise that they support competes in?

Right now there is no reason for them to do so... 90% of the over 200 respondents said that unification of the entire pyramid gives them a reason to follow the top division. This unification gives fans of EVERY club a reason to be invested in the entire pyramid, not just the league that the club they support currently play in.

We would love to hear your opinion on this in the comments or on social media. Use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag and join in.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New #ProRelForUSA Flakoglost podcast



Take some time and check out the #Flakoglost podcast put on by NonLeague Colorado. These guys do a great job with all of their interviews. I greatly appreciate them having me on. We talk a wide range of topics concerning #ProRelForUSA including player development, 4th/5th/6th division restructuring, animosity online between reformist and status quo seekers, and more.

Give it a listen at the link below

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chris Kessell on FarPostFooty podcast



I was blessed to talk to Jon Townsend on the FarPostFooty podcast last week about our efforts here in Charleston, WV building a Futsal Court, plans for the future, and the growth of the pick up soccer culture since then.

If you aren't happy with soccer culture... go build it in the streets. The game is free. Go play it.

Give Chemical Valley AC a LIKE on Facebook
Follow Chemical Valley AC on Twitter 


Friday, May 5, 2017

What could opening the pyramid potentially do to lower division media rights deals?




One of the most common items I feel that isn't discussed about an opening of the pyramid and the implementation of #ProRelForUSA is the sheer amount of domestic soccer that would be available to be packaged for broadcast from one source.

Lets just use our imagination right now and think of the first steps of building the pyramid from the bottom up. Something like what USASA is attempting to do right now with D4/5/6 being tied together under one roof and take it one step further with a professional D3 on top of it ran by USSF when it came time to try to monetize this media.

This would provide the potential for 2,500+ games to any broadcaster out there. Locally important, regionally important and evntually nationally important games not to mention the types of promotion and relegation story lines not seen in any other sporting setting in the country. We now would have in my opinion the potential for a very unique media deal...

One involving a streaming platform that could host dozens of games per week, highlight shows, analysis, etc wrapped around a website offering coverage of the entire base of the pyramid that would engage fans bases from every community in the country. Smarter people than myself could figure out whether an on demand ESPN3/Netflix/Amazon style system/partnership or some sort of hybrid between a traditional broadcast channel offering other content in addition to what is broadcasting would be the most effective system to engage the fans of these clubs and soccer in general.

No other sports media property could offer this many markets, this many teams, this many games, and this much content all in one place. Housing these media rights under one roof and distributing the profits back to the clubs could do more to stabilize lower division independent club soccer than any thing at any point in American soccer before it.

Mix this with an in house marketing company to sell sponsorships, advertising, and create partnerships on the national and regional level and we have what could be an increasingly lucrative plan for lower division soccer.

We also can't leave out what the upward growth of this open pyramid will do. As we see the strengthening of the base of the pyramid and the growth toward a federation controlled D2 and then an alternate D1 this unique story line of the building a true national pyramid would be one of the largest general sports stories in the United States in some time. This story also has the ability to finally engage millions of casual soccer (and sports) fans in a way nothing other than the world cup does currently.

I think the potential for huge growth is there... now can we have the leaders of soccer in this country find the political will to unify the base of the pyramid and the partner necessary to put this plan in motion?

Let us know your opinion in the comments or on social media using the #ProRelForUSA hashtag.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Two easy ways to join in on #ProRelWeek




Our friends at ProRelForUSA.com delivered two great ways to join in on #ProRelWeek today!

First, an inexpensive 2ft x 8ft banner that you can get printed up to display at your local game during the week (and all season).



and secondly, a great "Patch at the Park" to display on social media from the games you attend.




Make sure you use the #ProRelWeek hashtag when you post your pictures of your displays of support for systemic change while at games from May 6th to the 13th!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why do US soccer fans worry so much about Attendance and TV numbers?


Last night I had the chance to check out the great World Soccer Talk podcast concerning soccer TV numbers in the United States. I actually listened to two episodes... high quality and informative podcasts.

I've read a multitude of articles about MLS attendance being up... TV numbers being what they are... and some great analysis of both.

INCLUDING THIS GREAT RECAP OF LAST MLS SEASONS NUMBERS

I even saw this tweet telling people to quit worrying about attendance.


My question now is... Why do US soccer fans worry so much about Attendance and TV numbers?

I think the answer is pretty simple... the powers that be in US soccer have decided that the business of soccer is what matter when it comes to advancing your team up the pyramid and keeping them there.

If your team under performs business wise in MLS... you go away ie: Chivas USA, Miami Fusion, and Tampa Bay Mutiny.

If your team clicks off all the business metrics (and cuts the check) you get a chance to move up the pyramid. This even comes directly from USSF with its increasing market size and ownership net worth requirements at each high level of pro soccer.

The fans are going to put value on what ever the owners and Federation tell them is valuable. Right now the business of soccer is much more important than any on the field results. Having a city willing to spend millions upon millions of dollars to publicly fund a stadium in the right part of town, in the right size TV market, with the right lower division attendance figures, with the right demographics concerning median wages of its citizens, and the right size pocketbook of its ownership group is MUCH more valuable than any on field result will ever be.

Why should fans NOT concern themselves with all of these off the field metrics when those are actually what decide if you get to move up the pyramid or even stay in the pyramid... when we can all plainly see that is all that matters?


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Who should control US soccer's lower divisions?




The Supporters Group for Promotion and Relegation Twitter page recently ran a poll asking who should control the lower divisions of US soccer.

With the recent USL 3rd Division announcement, the even more recent Soc Takes NASL 3rd Division article, and our previously covered 4th/5th/6th Division USASA reform ideas it is interesting to see who the fans of the lower divisions of the game would like to see be "in charge" of the lowest divisions of the game.

With both USL and NASL both making plays to control the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Divisions of American soccer right now is maybe the most important time in recent history for lower division soccer in the country.

Not surprisingly to us, a majority of the respondents would like to see USSF/USASA control the lowest divisions of the soccer pyramid going forward. Hopefully the leadership at USASA will listen and take control of the 4th/5th/6th divisions of US soccer and work with USSF to create a Federation controlled 3rd Division. Will there ever be an opportunity this clear for actual reform to such a large part of the pyramid? We're not sure... but the majority of fans would love to see you not miss this chance to do something!





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Player development thoughts post MIC in Spain




These are the thoughts of two soccer development people I admire on Twitter post MIC in Spain...

It is very important to look at player development in the global context if we ever hope to move beyond what already exists in the soccer landscape of the United States. Here are two guys who just witnessed it first hand.


First





And second







Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Does Soccer in America need more than one pyramid?

Thank you Craig Gembecki (Follow him on Twitter here) for reaching out and asking to have his multi-pyramid regionally divided national league system idea hosted on the blog...

As usual... let us know what you think in the comments and use #ProRelForUSA on social media when discussing the subject!






Craig Gembecki
April 3, 2017

Does Soccer in America Need More than One Pyramid?

It’s been a relatively great couple of weeks for the #ProRelForUSA contingent. First, Australia’s
lower league clubs clapped back on the A-League as they look to break away from a FIFA
sanctioned monopoly across the globe. And then we hear that the USL in America is
considering a path for a lower division pro/rel system. On the surface, both are great because
they are forcing people who would otherwise avoid the topic at all costs to discuss it openly. For
me though, and I can’t help but be a contrarian, I’ve noticed a blind spot in the conversation as it
pertains to America: geography. Until that becomes the centerpiece of any pro/rel conversation,
I think we’re leading ourselves down a path that we cannot sustain.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The time is now for USSF and USASA to step up



I had been formulating this article for a while but with today's announcement of USL creating a new 3rd Division league to go along with their current 2nd Division one (and a potential competitor to SUM in their media company)...

READ MORE HERE and READ MORE HERE

It seems like the perfect time to lay out why RIGHT NOW is the perfect time for the USSF to create an independent directly USSF sanctioned Division 3 league outside of the influence of the For Profit league structure currently in place for professional soccer in the United States.


1) There is not currently a Division 3 league in the United States. The jump from the Amateur/Semi-Pro "Division 4" leagues to USL/NASL is a huge one. There needs to be an intermediary step for clubs to grow in to as they progress up the pyramid.

2) A Federation sanctioned and administered Division 3 league will greatly reduce start up and operational costs for clubs as it can be "Expansion Fee" free and additional "League Fees" free (above already instituted USSF professional league fees). Reduction of costs for clubs allows them more wiggle room when it comes to budgetary concerns and allows for an overall strengthening of the entire division of soccer through the investment of that capital in to clubs instead of it being removed via fees.

3) With the league being administered without the necessary pressures of expansion fee and league fee creation the Federation's 3rd Division can operate with the interests of its member clubs being the sole reason to make decisions. Making these decisions based on the best interests of clubs in the United States instead of the desire of the owners for profit generation by the league will be a positive for all the clubs involved. Often times, these two decision making processes do not see eye to eye.

4) Placing control of the 3rd Division with the Federation removes any desire for the league to exert pressure on USSF to gain some sort of competitive advantage in the marketplace over other leagues. This also gives the Division 3 a high level of stability for clubs to grow and invest in.

5) Every item listed so far can also be directly applied to USASA concerning a full season Division 4 and 5 allowing an integrated national League and Non-League structure to start to be put in place. It is important that we move away from the For Profit league system in the amateur and semi-pro soccer divisions as well.

5) Having USSF and USASA controlling the Division 3/4/5 and the State Associations having control over Division 6 and lower will allow great ease in the future for integration of the entire pyramid with #ProRelForUSA.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons why it is important for both the USSF to control the Division 3 level of the pyramid and for USASA to control the Division 4 and 5 full season levels of the pyramid. I would love to hear your opinion other reasons why the Federation should take control of the 3rd Division.

Please let us know your ideas in the comment section below or on social media using the #ProRelForUSA hashtag.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Who represents you at the USSF?



As an adult player, a coach, and as a fan... who represents you at USSF?

I hadn't really thought about this until recently. Watching the proceedings of the USSF AGM in Hawaii from afar I was struck by the idea that most people in the US don't really know who actually represents them at these proceedings. As we've discussed before, systemic change in the US soccer system will come from USSF and not from leagues or clubs. It goes without saying we should know who actually can make this change happen.

Simply put, there are state associations (some large states have 2) who represent all of us with interests in the adult game at USSF.

While it is easy for us to focus on the national leadership of Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn at USSF. We have local administrators who currently could be working hand in hand with the leadership of USASA building state leagues at the base of a true open pyramid. These same leaders could also be advocating for change in the entire system at the national level.

They get a vote!!!!

To find and then contact your local state representative to let them know we would love to see positive proactive change toward #ProRelForUSA

>>> CLICK THIS LINK <<<





Monday, March 27, 2017

New #ProRelWeek video



The great people at USA Soccer TV dropped a nice #ProRelWeek video earlier this evening!

Give them a follow on Twitter and check the video out




To learn more about what #ProRelWeek is >>> READ THIS ARTICLE

If you would like to read a review of last years success >>> READ THIS ARTICLE

 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bring #ProRelForUSA to US soccer petition drive



Simply put..

"Open up the sport of soccer in the U.S. to allow all clubs in all leagues to have a shot at becoming the best club in America. Let's change the status quo in the United States by allowing clubs to show their strength by their athletic ability and not by the amount of money a club has."


SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Open up your imagination with us for 1:03

Take 1:03 and open up your imagination...




#ProRelForUSA Coming Soon!

2nd Annual #ProRelWeek May 6th to May 13th 2017


After the success that was last years #ProRelWeek supporters are ramping up plans for the 2nd annual event. The week features the opening round of the US Open Cup sandwiched between two MLS/NASL/USL/UPSL/CSL game weekends and the start of the PDL and NPSL seasons. Supporter groups and soccer fans in the United States and Canada are being asked to show their support for the Open Pyramid movement during matches.

Make a banner, tifo, 2 pole, pass out flyers or chant during the game... document all of it and show the world on social media using the #ProRelWeek hashtag.

Check out some pictures of last years after the break!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What can one person do to help bring about #ProRelForUSA?



A pretty common refrain from people on Twitter about the #ProRelForUSA movement is that some individuals involved in the conversation are too confrontational or worse.... 

David Rudin took the time to write an article in Paste Magazine about it >>>  READ IT HERE

"Since the #ProRelForUSA crowd is already convinced that it speaks for the majority, turning off potential allies in this way carries little cost. That strategy, however, is based on an underlying delusion. Instead of building a coalition based on shared interests, leading promotion and relegation campaigners have decided to pick fights with potential allies. This is politicking at its most ineffective."
While I disagree with much of what he wrote in the article... I actually have spoken about building bridges not burning them many times on my Twitter account and I've read many other do the exact same thing. While right now I won't get in depth in to why I disagree with some of the major points he attempts to make (the main one is he conflates a few people on Twitter to the entire movement) I think it is important to address the Twitter discussion that was spurred on from this article.




I saw many people agreeing with Mr. Rudin that they do not like the tactics of some of the most vocal Twitter supporters of the #ProRelForUSA movement. That is a perfectly acceptable response... most people don't like assholes.

How do you as just one person help counteract this? If you really do care... SPEAK UP! If these few proponents of an Open Pyramid are just a few voices out of a 1,000 voices on social media they are just going to be a small piece of the overall movements noise. Use the hashtag religiously when you are talking about the subject.

I started this blog 100 posts ago... all because I felt like there wasn't enough being written about the subject. If you would have told me during my English 101 course my Freshman year of college that I would be writing a blog that was read by 1,000 people a day I might have paid more attention...

That being said, if we allow 140 character tweets from a very vocal subset of #ProRelForUSA proponents to dominate the content being created on the subject that is our fault. Fire up the laptop and write a think piece, develop a plan, blog about an idea, make a meme... be a content creator.

If you see some content you do like... Share it to Reddit, Retweet it, put it on your Facebook wall, post it on your Instagram. Expand the reach of all of the "good people" advocating for #ProRelForUSA. Thank them for writing about the subject!!!! Don't worry if you don't agree with them 100% on every single item... if they want all clubs to have access to an Open Pyramid then we are all on the same team and can get all the particulars figured out later. We need the pressure ratcheted up NOW.

If you don't like somebody or are being Trolled... use the "BLOCK" feature on your social media. Don't expand their reach or waste your time by arguing with them.

Take a few minutes a couple of days a week and search out the people just joining the conversation and let them know you appreciate them speaking up. Introduce them to the #ProRelForUSA hashtag and ask them to continue to speak up. Let them know that every single person who speaks up is more pressure on the powers that be to open the pyramid up. Be a bridge builder and bring them to our side.

Take the movement to the stands... leagues all across the country are going to be playing games here in just a few more weeks. Make a banner, Tifo, 2 pole or even just some flyers and take them to your local clubs game and display them proudly. Take some pictures and post them online.

We as individuals can all help amplify the conversation online and in the stands. This is going to do nothing but increase pressure on the leadership of the USSF to actually do the right thing and do whats best for ALL the clubs in the United States, not just MLS. Wanting and wishing for Promotion and Relegation isn't going to make it happen.... we must fight for it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NASL Commisioner confirms that Co-D1 is possible



In the debut Soc Takes podcast North American Soccer League interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal gives a very thorough interview about many behind the scenes issues facing and solutions for the league... he also drops this overlooked gem concerning a question many of us have had about a potential Co-D1 in the future for US Soccer.

Nipun Chopra  - Do you know or are you assuming based on the way the legality of it is written out that there can be two D2 leagues at the end of the year?

Rishi Sehgal - We have had conversations with US Soccer about the sanctioning process in the past and they have been very clear that as long as the league meets the standards then they are under an obligation to sanction them at that level.


As we have discussed in the past a Co-D1 set up for the US Soccer Pyramid can be a way toward an open pyramid. This quote seems to finally put to bed the question of whether or not a Co-D1 set up is actually possible under USSF's sanctioning process.

Listen to the entire interview below


New owner of the NY Cosmos speaks up for #ProRelForUSA




New owner of NASL's NY Cosmos Rocco Commisso spoke up and spoke out today at the NY Cosmos media day in favor of systemic change in US soccer and #ProRelForUSA...

“Did anyone see the Minneapolis game where they lost 7-1 [scoreline was actually 6-1]? This is exactly what I’m talking about. Because they paid $100M with another $150M for the stadium, Minneapolis got to the MLS, right? Well, the Cosmos won the championship. In other countries, all over Europe, South America, so on, the Cosmos should be moving up to the MLS, not Minneapolis. I think Minneapolis was the eighth-ranked team in the MLS [NASL] last year, out of twelve; we were number one.”


READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE 

Watch the entire press conference below.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Do you remember when nobody thought CFB would have playoffs?



It wasn't too long ago when the standard answer to fans calls for a D1 NCAA College Football Playoff was "It is never going to happen". The reasoning was usually... too much money from the bowls... too much history... the good old boy network.... etc. etc. etc.

Well you know what? The fans eventually won out when the public pressure led TV partners to figure out how they could make more money off of a playoff than the bowls.

Right now the calls for USSF to switch from the closed league system that we are currently using in the United States and Canada are becoming more and more frequent from not only the fans but from  media sources nationwide.

The Daily Californian published a very solid piece today calling for #ProRelForUSA...

Why not follow the European model and integrate relegation and promotion? Have a certain number of bad teams descend to a second division, and have some of those teams in those leagues ascend. It would give opportunities for division II teams that have an established fan base get involved at a much bigger stage.
read it here >>>   "MLS should change a flawed system".

Not too long ago Roy Bragg in the San Antonio Express News wrote a great piece challenging whether or not MLS is even worth it for cities who want professional soccer. He also calls for guess what? #ProRelForUSA
There is a simple and faster way for SA or any other city to move up to MLS, but none of the apparatchiks at the U.S. Soccer Federation or MLS, nor bandwagon fans, want to hear it.
The answer? Promotion/Relegation.
That system sets up a hierarchy of national leagues, from Tier I down to semi-pro. The worst teams in a division are paid a tidy sum to drop down a tier, while the best teams in lower tiers move up one notch

READ IT HERE

In the past we've covered articles in Chicago and Sacramento calling for the same reform. These are just two more in what is becoming a regular call for systemic reform by the media in the United States. It feels like we are on the path to where writers are going to starting calling an Opening of the Pyramid a "When we do this" not a "If we do this".

Just like happened for College Football and the playoffs... 


Friday, March 3, 2017

How does the MLS structure affect youth players in the US abilty to turn pro?



Earlier today Will Parchman reported in THIS ARTICLE that...

New England Revolution academy forward Justin Rennicks was suspended for his final 2017 spring semester by the club for going on a training stint at a Bundesliga club this winter, several sources confirmed to TopDrawerSoccer.com.

As we have discussed previously MLS has a very convoluted system when it comes to dealing with player signings with the league. No franchise actually signs players... the league signs the players to a contract and at that point they are assigned to a team.

Part of this player signing system is the "Homegrown Player" contract rights for young players just entering the league from an academy of a MLS club. These young players are not under any sort of professional contract like top level academy players in the rest of the world would be. They are not being paid at all actually...

The Homegrown Player right to sign this young player to a contract in the MLS are "owned" by each franchise anyways. So unless the youth prospect signs a professional contract with the franchise that the player is in the academy of... they can not play in MLS without the team being compensated for it by a different team in MLS.

Confused yet?

Long story short... if the youth player does not sign with the club who owns their "Homegrown Rights" they can't sign with the MLS to play for any other team. Right off the bat about 40% of the professional soccer teams in the United States and Canada are removed from the pool of potential employers for young players.

So... if we go and train with clubs around the world in the off-season to try to help our employment prospects we get suspended from the Academy AND still have our Homegrown Player rights owned by that club. If we continue to play in the Academy and then try to negotiate for the best contract we can in the US, we run the risk of not being able to sign with any team in the top division of soccer in the United States after being blackballed from signing with any other MLS franchise if we don't accept the teams offer. If we go to college we then waste the first four years of the limited time we can earn a living being a professional player.

Sounds like an awesome system to have set up for MLS to keep American player costs down... not so much for young  players trying to earn a living.

Also just remember that if we used the same system the rest of the world used regarding Training Compensation and Solidarity Fees the MLS would be getting money if the young player signed with any other club.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

An all important first step




This week USSF Board Members and USASA President John Motta was a guest on the always great Flakoglost Podcast ...



Why is this a big deal?

This is the first time ever a sitting USSF Board of Directors member and national sanctioning body President has spoken up about actively working to create an Open Pyramid structure featuring #ProRelForUSA in any form.

This is a seminal moment for the movement.

Let this interview's contents sink in for a moment... a USSF Board member... the President of all sanctioned amateur soccer in the United States...  actively working on creating a structured Division 4, Division 5, and Division 6 in the United States that will feature Promotion and Relegation and going on record about it.

Today is a big day.

I feel more hopeful about the future of soccer in the United States than I have at any point in the last few years.

It may not be exactly the plan you want to hear...  but at least we know the conversations are being had and the subsequent steps are being taken to build the base of a true national pyramid.

Thank you John ... American soccer fans hope you succeed with this all important first step. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What happens when they stand up for themselves?








The MLSPU did not do a good job standing up to MLS for its players... we all know this.

What happens when MLS players finally get fed up with the system and its machinations? What happens when USL and NASL players get fed up with the fact that they cant advance to the top levels of the game in the United States the same way players in the rest of the world can?

What happens when the players decide enough is enough... and walk out. At every level. At once.

The next level of the American Soccer Wars begins... 


Friday, February 10, 2017

Why can't we sign this player again?



This wonderfully constructed flowchart by Sports Illustrated's Alexander Abnos of MLS player acquisition rules has been quite the talk of the soccer social media-sphere the last couple of days.


Stu Holden brought up a great question... why can't MLS teams just sign the players they want?

Well, it is a pretty simple answer really. Because MLS teams are not separate free market entities when it comes to players contracts. All player contracts are owned by the league.

These two objectives—free market competition and single-entity—are basically diametrically opposed. Single-entity status allows MLS to fix salaries league-wide by centralizing all contracts. When an MLS player signs a deal, it's between the league and the player, rather than between the player and a team. This means there is no real intra-league competition between teams in signing players, since all MLS teams are actually shared arms of a larger body. You sign your original contract with MLS, and then you play where MLS tells you, or else leave the league. That has been the extent of player movement.

Billy Haisley has done a great job explaining why true Free Agency and open player acquisition rules can not exist within the MLS Single Entity Structure.

Why would the league want to do that? is the next logical question.

Pretty simple answer here too... to keep domestic player salaries as low as possible for profit maximization purposes. If there is no competition for players between the teams then the player has no leverage when it comes time to negotiate a new contract.

Is this legal?

Many say that this single entity structure exists on shaky ground. Including Elizabeth Cotignola (Follow her on Twitter HERE) in her great pre-MLS CBA ratification article.

Evidence that the entities have engaged in any sort of competition indicates that there is more than a single entity involved, capable of an agreement or conspiracy for the purposes of Section 1. If the defendants can be deemed to be competitors, their action cannot be guided by a common conscience, and the single-entity exemption is inapplicable.

In modern-day MLS, the league’s investor-operators do indeed have divergent interests. Their teams are separate entities of independent economic value. This was true even when Fraser was decided, of course, but the disparities are noticeably more prevalent now than they were then. This difference in value is the result of many different factors – marketing, broadcast rights, corporate sponsors, stadia, the ever-important results, and so on and so forth but few would argue that the Designated Player is not paramount among these.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

 You can also read more about the MLS Single Entity structure in this great primer HERE.

We also still have not had clarification on whether MLS's single entity structure violates the new FIFA 3rd Party Ownership rules. 

So this is where we as a soccer nation stand today. The US Soccer Federation allowing MLS owners to conspire with each other to keep domestic players salaries as low as possible and likely breaking anti-trust laws while doing so.

Speak up and speak out for change at the USSF level ... use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag on social media and let others know you are ready for change!


Does U.S. Soccer’s League Set-up Violate FIFA Rules?

A very balanced must read piece by Terence D. Brennan (give him a well deserved follow on Twitter HERE) on the legal issues surrounding the current set up of the professional league system in the United States.

The vast majority of countries operate their soccer leagues through promotion and relegation. This means that the leagues are stratified, and clubs can rise to higher leagues or fall to lower ones based on their results. Each spring, it makes for an exciting scene, as teams at the bottom of the standings fight to avoid the drop and teams at the top fight for passage into a higher division.

This system is not a mere gimmick. Indeed, FIFA has enshrined promotion and relegation in its rules. That is, FIFA statutes mandate that “entitlement to take part in a domestic championship shall” be determined by promotion or relegation based on “sporting merit.” And soccer’s world body has defended the concept with vigor, lauding it as the “very essence of football.”

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Did Garber lie to the media?



This quote from MLS Commissioner Don Garber in Vancouver today has been quite the topic of conversation on social media.



On its face that is a pretty damning statement without any other context. Don Garber admitting to favoritism for some teams at the expense of others. Pair this with two decades of MLS saying that it did not do this...

In context it seems to get even worse... LISTEN TO ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE


Because according to ESPNFC as recently as LAST season this would be a lie...

As we discussed in THIS ARTICLE the MLS has (against their own published rules) subsidized at least Steven Gerrards 2015/16 Designated Player contract at the expense of signing the best young talent in the US to MLS contracts.

I know I find it worrisome that a USSF Board member would show favoritism to some teams over others in his capacity as Commissioner of MLS and to double down with what on its face appears to be a lie to the media about the continuation of this practice... is even more of an issue.





Thursday, February 2, 2017

Beware of promises that can not be kept




This past week we saw MLS expansion applications submitted by 12 investment groups. Investors and politicians are now engaging in negotiations about city/county/state funds being used for infrastructure, upgrades to stadiums, and new stadiums daily.

Obviously these elected officials are doing their due diligence and researching the viability of all of the proposals being put forth to them. There is one very major item they must take in to account... MLS can not in any way shape or form guarantee that this club will always be a 1st Division club.

MLS does not posses the final say whether the pyramid of American soccer remains closed and what its structure will look like in the future.

As the national and world regulatory bodies behind soccer, at any point in time the USSF or FIFA can step in and mandate structural change to the American soccer landscape.

If our community leaders are being promised permanency for the current system by these investors, MLS, or USSF... we have larger problems in US soccer than too many investors wanting in MLS.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How can YOU help create an alternate American soccer pyramid?

This past weeks explosion of cities vying for MLS soccer has done nothing but solidify the idea that there are more than enough investors with the ambition to own the best club in the country. It also shows a current and direct need for an open pyramid that allows access for all.

As we have discussed in previous posts, an alternate pyramid existing along side the current closed league system featuring MLS as the sole Division 1 league in the US is right now a currently viable option.  How can we as fans help make this happen?

Contact your local representatives and let them know this is possible. Discuss WHAT the key points are with them, HOW they would positively effect your local community, and WHY they should care. A few points to start with...

Can we have have two Division 1 soccer leagues? >>> HERE
How does an open pyramid protect cities from losing their club? >>> HERE
How does the US pyramid work and what does "Division 1 Soccer" mean? >>> HERE
Is reform of the massive lower divisions of US soccer already being planned?  >>> HERE
How does an Open Pyramid help small business owners nationwide? >>> HERE
Does MLS decide if we have an Open Pyramid for US soccer? >>> HERE

Help these mayors and city council members think of the issues as AFL vs NFL, but with one side as a single business with franchise owners and the other of independent clubs in every community in the country. What politician wants to be on the side of Wal-Mart/McDonalds when you can be on the side of 1000's of Mom and Pop stores?

Have them contact leaders of all of these other potential MLS cities and have them discuss how these men and women can change professional sports in this country FOREVER. 

Currently there is somewhere between 1.5b and 2.5b dollars worth of potential franchise fees being offered by the clubs trying to gain entrance in to MLS. That dollar amount alone is more than enough for new stadiums where needed, upgraded stadiums where possible, free academy systems for community kids, increased player payrolls, and any other upgrades needed for every club in question without a single taxpayer dollar being spent anywhere in the country.

The final question is...

Do we want these billions of dollars and any other taxpayer money to go directly in to current MLS owners pockets or do we want it invested in to the game in this country?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cities need to communicate about, not compete for MLS

MLS recently has announced that it has opened bidding for expansion franchise slots in the league... groups have scrambled to put together stadium bids featuring quite a bit of public money. Recent reports have put the numbers at

$113m in Charlotte
$129m in St. Louis
$50m in Louisville
Undisclosed in Nashville

We currently don't know if Phoenix, Cincinnati, San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay, San Antonio, Raleigh/Durham, or Detroit are going to eventually ask for money. Based on the closed league (artificial scarcity) model employed by owners in all the major sports in the US, I think we should expect many of them to do so. Currently only Sacramento has submitted a plan that does not call for public funding to support their stadium project.

This list also doesn't include the hundreds of millions being spend by current MLS cities to keep their teams happy and not moving to one of these cities who would like Division 1 American soccer.

As we have discussed in previous posts the Co-D2 model that the USSF currently employs has opened the door for a new professional soccer league system with a (not MLS) Division 1 soccer league at the top. An open soccer pyramid would be very beneficial for small business owners nationwide and help protect cities/states from losing their local team to relocation. With potentially every city in the country participating in the league system at one level or another, it would be impossible to pit community vs community for free/reduced cost stadiums and tax breaks at the threat of losing "our team".

Recent statements from USASA have stated that they are in the process of restructuring the massive lower divisions of soccer in the United States. If the leaders of these 10+ cities interested in MLS expansion would come together they could help facilitate a structural change at the top of the soccer pyramid as well.

NASL last season had broadcast deals, while not as lucrative financially, that were equal to if not better than MLS in ease of access of games for it's clubs fans. It is very conceivable that this new league system could in Year 1 rival the established MLS in media coverage for fans by staying partnered with CBS Sports, BeIN Sports, and ESPN3.

This new league system would also be sanctioned at the same level as MLS by USSF as a Division 1 league. Think AFL vs NFL but with one side as closed system of franchise owners and the other of independent clubs in every community in the country.

These MLS expansion candidate community leaders need to be talking with each other about how to change the system of sports owners and single entity leagues holding cities, counties and states hostage instead of competing with each other.

A little political pressure... that might be all it takes. 







Thursday, January 26, 2017

What can USASA do to solidify the base of the US pyramid? (UPDATED)





The lower divisions of US soccer have been described quite accurately as the Wild West. New leagues and clubs popping up almost daily all off season every year for generations now. Many fans do not realize that amateur and semi-pro soccer leagues in the United States are not directly sanctioned by USSF in the same manner that professional soccer leagues/clubs are. They are in fact either indirectly sanctioned to USSF via the US Adult Soccer Association (USASA), US Club Soccer or by your local state soccer association's relationship with either USASA or US Club.

There are many great leagues and clubs in "Non-League" American soccer... we have also seen explosive growth over the last few years at this level of club competition. Currently it does not appear that the USSF is going to step up and create a true D4/5/6 directly sanctioned national league structure. Knowing this, USASA is in a perfect position to manage this growth and direct it toward the creation of a true base of a national pyramid system for US soccer considering its existing size and relationship with 1000's of clubs/teams nationwide.

There have been a multitude of articles written about potential regional league structures for different parts of the country including this great RegionalLiga article by American Pyramid about the North East and our Va, WV, NC and SC article. Due to the lack of leadership by USSF many entrepreneurs are starting to fill this void and create regional leagues themselves like the Gulf Coast Premier League and the United Premier Soccer League. Unfortunately these regional and national leagues (NPSL/PDL) are having to act like independently controlled de-facto federations for their clubs.

What is now desperately needed is for the leadership of USASA to provide a proactive long term visionary plan for US Soccer and create a structured system of regional leagues as homes for independent clubs.

D4 - 16 Regional Leagues
D5 - 32 Regional Leagues
D6 - 64 Regional Leagues

There are 54 State Associations in the United States. 64 Regional Leagues could be mandated by USASA and then administered by the state associations with the largest population state associations hosting multiple leagues to give local control at the lowest levels. How the existing local and city leagues interact with the 64 Regional Leagues in the national D6 system would need to be worked out directly at this the local level. If the state associations balk at this idea... just take control and cut them out and do it at the national office level.

As clubs apply for membership in to the USASA Regional League System they could be graded and placed in to the appropriate regional league according to the standards set by USASA for the first year. As the system fills up promotion would be implemented along with the continuing addition of new clubs via this application process. Upon all regional leagues at the 3 levels having filled up, a true system of Promotion and Relegation would then be implemented.

Long term financially this new Regional League System would significantly lower costs for all clubs involved. As teams are added/changed, regions can be altered by shifting teams to continue to keep transportation costs as low as possible.  With the operation and management of the leagues being done at the state association and USASA national office level, yearly league fees can be kept VERY low. Until the league system fills up, applying for a position in and then "Buying in" at a higher than the 6th Division level could require an expansion fee that could be put in to a fund that draws interest to help offset administration fees for USASA.

USASA has the ability to permanently and significantly change the soccer pyramid in the United States. They can finally give American soccer the stability and structure that it needs at its base for us to truly be a world class soccer nation.

Hopefully they have the vision to do so...   



UPDATE:

Since the release of this article USASA President John Motta responded with a comment on the article. Very encouraging to say the least... USASA we can't wait to see what you have planned!













Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How does Co-D2 change the US soccer landscape?

As all of you are I'm sure aware by now USSF sanctioned both the USL and NASL as Co-Division 2 pro leagues in the US last week. A big question is... what exactly does this mean in the long term for soccer in the United States?

There are several scenarios that are now very real possibilities that were only theories before. The biggest in my opinion being that Co-D1's with MLS now has a precedent set for it. This Co-D1's idea can lead us in several directions... for the moment lets concentrate on one that could end up with us possessing an open pyramid for the United States.

With multiple clubs in NASL and USL already having publicly expressed a desire to be top division clubs along with several others having the ability to be top division clubs could we see the independent clubs within USL and NASL reaching an agreement to create an alternate "League System" featuring a D1 to rival MLS?

According to USSF league sanctioning regulations a D1 league must have 12 teams among other league and club administrative, governance, and staffing requirements. A combined USL/NASL league could in 2018 immediately provide 11 clubs who have expressed a desire to move to the top level of US soccer.

1. Sacramento Republic
2. Saint Louis FC
3. FC Cincinnati
4. San Antonio FC
5. Tampa Bay Rowdies
6. FC North Carolina
7. Miami FC
8. NY Cosmos
9. Indy 11
10. Louisville City FC
11. San Francisco Deltas

With several other clubs who are for sure joining or rumored to be joining the USL/NASL having expressed a desire to play at the top level including Nashville SC or Peter Wilt's NASL Chicago project it is not out of the question to be able to have 12 in year one. 

Obviously all of these 11 clubs do not meet minimum stadium requirements to be D1 clubs but USSF has also shown that it will provide a waiver for leagues who do not meet minimum requirements as a league.

With multiple clubs rumored to be joining both USL and NASL for the 2018 season this would leave well over 16 independent non-MLS2 clubs to create a viable national D2 league. So we can easily create a Division 1/Division 2 set up from these USL/NASL clubs and the expansion clubs joining in 2018.

Currently there are well over 200 "D4/5" amateur/semi-pro clubs in the United States in national and regional elite leagues. These leagues are seeing rapid growth every year and have even started to in some cases use internal #ProRelForUSA between divisions. A unification of these leagues in to a legitimate national D4 set up of regional leagues using a model similar to the one I laid out for the mid-Atlantic region of the country could solidify a very solid base for clubs to grow and mature in.

During Year 2 we could see a regionally divided D3 start with clubs promoted out of our new national D4 set up of regional leagues who meet requirements (and want) to be promoted as they win their way up the pyramid filling out the D3, then the D2, and then finally the D1.

As you can see this Co-D2 decision could potentially radically change the US Soccer Pyramid for the better... offering the possibility for a competing Open Pyramid featuring #ProRelForUSA running concurrently with MLS.



Friday, January 6, 2017

A Call for Change

Recently a reform minded group released a great document calling for an overhaul of USSF governance touching on everything from Transparency to USWNT pay equality...


ARTICLE I: A Call For Transparency
In a time when FIFA has been shown to be filled with corruption, a call for transparency and publication of pertinent documents should not be put on hold any longer. Since the fall of Chuck Blazer, there have been many question marks surrounding President Gulati, Commissioner Garber and CEO Dan Flynn’s record. To clear the records of those in power, while ensuring the integrity of those employed by the USSF, documents and the financial accounts of those working in the United States Soccer Federation should be published to present our federation as a positive and serious model for the rest of the nations of FIFA, and the international governing body itself, to emulate. The purpose of Article I is not to bring down the structure of American soccer and those in power, but rather to create clarity and respect in a time where both attributes are rare.

True transparency by any federation is uncommon in today’s society, but America should not strive to be like every other federation.

Please take a few minutes and READ THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT HERE and SIGN THE PETITION HERE.

 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We will be ready... in the future.

We have all heard the "Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort", or to most of us simply known as the "We choose to go to the moon" speech. It was delivered by U.S. President John F. Kennedy to the nation in Houston, Texas at Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962.

Being one of JFK's earlier speeches meant to persuade the American public to support the national effort to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth it became a rallying cry for this massive project. Many thought the project and timeline was beyond what was achievable. It turned out to not be.

Every day on "soccer twitter" you see members of the media and fans of the game saying that an Open Pyramid in the US is not possible TODAY. That is true... TODAY we can't open the pyramid. But in the future we can... all we need is a timeline from USSF and clubs can start to plan and move forward.




Today clubs all over the nation are holding back on investing in players and infrastructure because they can see that those investments are likely not to provide the Return on Investment necessary to warrant the expenditures without the ability to exist in an Open Pyramid (market for soccer).

When are the leaders of US Soccer going to stand at a podium and proclaim that they believe in American soccer and the potential it holds and announce a bold plan for the future... one that its current detractors don't seem to be able to see?