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?