US Soccer Starts D2 Meeting with Tough Standards
The USSF convenes their long-awaited Division 2 meeting in New York today on the eve of the US v Brazil game. In that meeting US Soccer will lay out their findings after 4 months of data gathering. Dan Flynn, Secretary General of the federation and chair of U.S. Soccer’s Professional League Task Force has been working with Brian Remedi, Chief Administrative Officer to gather data and talk with each existing club in the USSF D2 Pro League. US Soccer has come to some conclusions and will share that information at these meetings with representatives of each team. In fact, those standards were released to current and potential teams on Friday in order for the organizations to have time to reflect and be prepared to discuss the standards at today’s meetings.
IMS was told that the USSF is attempting to create a delineation between D-2 and D-3 soccer just as there is a large difference between MLS and D-2. They are also trying to stop the constant flux of teams that D-2 has seen over the last 15 years. As pointed out in an earlier IMS 4-part series called Rethinking Division-2 Soccer in North America, 39 of 52 teams have come and gone in that time; a 75% fail rate. However, the new standards that US Soccer have created could possibly eliminate a number of current teams if special provisions or altering of those standards is not allowed.
The new standards call for a whopping 750 thousand dollar bond which must be paid by each team 120 days in advance of the season. A figure that may have even some of the richer owners in the league reeling.
Another standard will be soccer specific stadiums. The new standard will require all teams in D2 to be playing in SSS’s within 5 years.
US Soccer is also calling for the net worth of the majority owner of each team to be worth $20 million. This more than anything is a sticking point that could eliminate a number of existing teams. The Puerto Rico Islanders are just one of those teams. The club has multiple owners, including the Bureau of Tourism. It’s believed that none of those owners could meet those standards even though the Islanders have been financially stable and have had great success both in league and CONCACAF competition.
A number of other teams could also be in trouble if the standards are not up for negotiation or teams are not grandfathered in. Two of those teams are the NSC Stars and Crystal Palace Baltimore. While many believe CP Baltimore are hanging on by a thread as both the USSF and NASL have pumped money into the organization in recent weeks to keep them afloat for the rest of the season, Minnesota, like Puerto Rico, is also in a unique situation. The team is a non-profit organization. It owns its stadium and is paid for. It also shares staff with the NSC and the property of the NSC is well over the benchmark net worth set by US Soccer. However, in this case they would not pass the litmus test with no one owner worth the $20 million. Other teams also worry about the high standards.
It’s believed that Edmonton, who was proposed for expansion next year, will pass the USSF criteria. It’s quite possible that all other teams proposed for 2011 by both the USL and NASL will not meet these standards. The USL Orlando group that owned a lacrosse team called the Titans have recently folded because of financial difficulties. One source from the Orlando area reported that Steve Donner, who leads the group, claims that they are still on for a D2 expansion team in 2011. In the original press conference it was said that the Titans would be the majority owner, but now Donner is claiming the Titans only owned 10% of the new soccer venture. It’s not known if this Orlando group will have the resources for the new USSF standard. FC New York was already making plans to join USL-2 (D-3) next year and not D-2 as originally touted.
Most of those attending the gathering believe that US Soccer has called the meeting to get feedback from teams and hope the exact terms are open to some negotiation.