Monday, November 21, 2016

What could a regional D4/5 set up look like in VA, WV, NC and SC?

With recent reports that the USL owned PDL has been offering NPSL clubs 10k cash incentives to move in addition to waiving of the 75k entry fee and no yearly fee... the UPSL announcing rapid expansion in to Colorado, Idaho and other west coast states while putting in place a #ProRelForUSA system between 2 divisions of play... I just can't get past the thought that a USSF take over of the unofficial D4/D5 level of semi-pro/amateur club system and the introduction of a complete nationally structured regionally aligned system would be very beneficial to all parties involved.

To think about what the current system of competing national and regional D4 and D5 for profit leagues has led us to we can think about what it does to the member clubs. In many cases we have these small, limited budget clubs driving hours past clubs from other leagues who are much closer to get to distant league rivals. We have, comparative to club revenue, exorbitant entry and membership fees being charged by PDL. Franchise proximity clauses in place in many leagues keeping local rivalries from developing. The national focus of  NPSL and PDL do not allow for local league leadership to pursue sponsorship opportunities for league and cup competitions.

At the fully professional D1/2/3 levels the states of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina feature the Carolina Railhawks in the 2nd Division NASL along with the Richmond Kickers, Charlotte Independence and Charleston Battery in the 3rd Division USL and the Wilmington Hammerheads dropping from USL to PDL this year.

Right now there are 17 more clubs competing in the PDL and NPSL with several other rumored new clubs out there.

We can see that this is a really strong existing base for a regional D4 and D5 set up in a relatively small geographic footprint.

From my work trying to develop a much smaller regional league in this area I can confidently say that there are at least 5 investor groups and youth clubs who would immediately join a competitively priced regional league like this that I personally have talked to in WV and southwest Virginia alone. From looking at the list of cities of 25,000 and larger we see that this area has 76 separate cities with populations that large with only 21 clubs existing in them.

I think it is safe to say that the potential for rapid growth is there. This potential could easily lead to a system in place with a top level D4 with a north and south D5 that features promotion and relegation between the leagues. This does not even touch on the existing USASA and US Club sanctioned local leagues that already exist all up and down the region that if properly included could be the start of a de facto state level D6 club level and below.

In Virginia alone there are these USASA leagues...

  • Braddock Road Adult Soccer League (BRASL)
  • Burke Athletic Club (BAC)
  • Central Virginia Soccer Association (CVSA)
  • Churchland Soccer League (CSL)
  • Culpeper Soccer Association (CSA)
  • Fauquier County Adult Soccer League (FCASL)
  • New River United Soccer Association (NRUSA)
  • Northern Virginia Adult Soccer Association (NVASA)
  • Northern Virginia Soccer Club (NVSC)
  • Northern Virginia Soccer League (NVSL)
  • Northern Virginia Women's Soccer League (NVWSL)
  • Portsmouth Soccer Club (PSC)
  • Roanoke Adult Soccer League (RASL)
  • Shipp's Corner Soccer Club (SCSC)
  • Soccer Organization of Charlottesville / Albemarle (SOCA)
  • Southeastern Virginia Women's Soccer Association (SEVWSA)
  • Virginia Rush-Hampton League (VA RUSH-Peninsula)
  • Warren County Adult Soccer League (WCASL)  

Pairing this dedicated regional D4/5/6 system with a USSF mandated regional cup competition that features the 4 D2/3 pro teams could make for a very exciting regional league and cup set up.

13 team D4 playing a double round robin 24 game schedule
2 North/South 13 team D5 leagues playing 24 game double round robin schedules
6 state sanctioned D6 competitions (WV, Va North, Va South, NC East, NC West, SC)

D4 Relegates bottom 3
D5 Promote each North/South league winner with playoff for 2nd and 3rd place from each of North and South to qualify a 3rd team for promotion
D5 relegates 3 teams each from North/South
D6 promotes 1 team each from 6 state leagues.

With this set up not facing the profit generating pressure that the current league set up faces with USSF hosting the leagues the price point for entry and membership fees could be kept very low. A great comparison would be the Gulf Coast Premier League in the deep south and the Evergreen Premier League in Washington State that both have yearly expansion and membership fees of $1500 or less.

This lowering of fees, proximity of league members lowering travel costs, (hopefully) development of local rivals and away fan travel could all lead to improved health and profitability of this level of soccer in the region and massive growth.

Now think of this set up in your part of the country... how do you think this could change the way local soccer works? I think it would be a GREAT change that would do nothing but strengthen the base of the pyramid all across the country.

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