FiftyFive.One has learned that a completed deal to make the USL the sole second-division league is 99 percent complete. The deal wouldn’t involve the NASL becoming a third-division, leaving the league dead in the water. The USSF’s extended deadline would allow any transferring clubs extra time to get their ducks in a row to avoid litigation with non-moving teams.
The outlook of the NASL keeps getting grimmer with each passing day. Earlier this week, FiftyFive.One confirmed that the New York Cosmos were defunct, and only four teams (Cosmos included) weren’t negotiating with the USL.
For the entirety of Monday’s report by Brian Quarstad on the NASL’s future, click here.
On Tuesday, the USSF announced they would extend the deadline on a lower-division decision by “seven to ten days.” In reality, this wasn’t a move to try and salvage the NASL. Instead, the governing body is looking to finalize deals with all former NASL clubs interested in moving to the USL. This would prevent potential legal action from any clubs that wouldn’t make the move.
Earlier this offseason, NASL commissioner Bill Peterson stated that the NASL was interested in a merger with the USL into one league. In reality, the USL had little interest in a true merger, as the third division held all of the cards. Any sort of talk of a “merger” would be a symbolic gesture outside of clubs leaving one league for another.
All of this means that many in the NASL ranks would be left without employment at the end of 2016. This includes Peterson, who’s been in charge of the NASL since 2012. Sources believe his salary was over $500,000 per year before bonuses and business perks. Peterson had previously been the COO of the United Football League from 2010-2011. Once the league folded, he sued the league for more than $110,000 in unpaid salary.
There are also major questions surfacing about the authenticity of league commissioner & CEO Peterson’s public comments. Multiple clubs have affirmed that they were misled by Peterson about the prospect of future NASL expansion as means to keep owners invested. Notably, Peterson told Sports Illustrated that the NASL was in talks with “forty groups” when asked about Tampa Bay and Ottawa’s impending USL departure.
The 2017 Question
The outlook of which clubs are looking to join the USL is starting to become clear. In November, it was confirmed that Tampa Bay and Ottawa would be joining the USL in 2017. Multiple sources have stated that San Francisco, Indy, and newly-rebranded North Carolina are set to join the USL.
Miami is also interested in making a switch. However, one source has stated that the USL is wary to include the team due to a longstanding potential MLS side in the city, led by David Beckham.
Meanwhile, markets like Puerto Rico and Edmonton are of interest to the USL on paper. However, according to one source, the distance of the two in comparison to the rest of the league are tremendous outliers and would drive up expenses. Of the two, Puerto Rico is a more appealing prospect and isn’t out of talks yet.
FC Edmonton is a far murkier situation. Multiple sources have relayed that neither the USL nor the Canadian club are interested in uniting. The odds of this resolving, with Edmonton in the USL, are nearly null. While the potential Canadian Premier League was seen as a fallback, the club isn’t sold on the CPL either. Edmonton may be left without a home altogether.
This morning, Brian Quarstad shared that former investor Traffic’s B shares have been purchased, creating a financial windfall of $3,500,000 for the fading league. As one of the league’s strongest proponents, Edmonton’s Tom Fath is expected to see a large payout himself.
All clubs are expected to have a deadline of Friday, December 16, to complete their admittance to the USL. However, it remains to be seen if these clubs will have to pay a full entry fee. Reports as of this August priced the USL expansion fee out to be around $5 million.