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USSF D-2 Professional League Standards

2010 August 12
by Brian Quarstad

US Soccer supplied IMS with the new D-2 Pro League Standards this afternoon. U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe confirmed that the standards were passed on Tuesday.

There are some interesting new rules in here. I wish I had the time to point them out but instead I will let you look at the document yourself and make comment. Some of these rules are the same as were in place when the USL sanctioned the league. Others are consistent with the USSF Pro League this year. But many are brand new and are pretty tough. There’s no doubt after reading these standards that USSF will watch over this league carefully and not accept the behavior that has happened in the past.

Also note the USSF’s standards for size of cities and areas of location with time zones. They definitely want teams spread out across the US and they most definitely want the league to expand. It seems the sanctioning league will be held responsible for expansion. The league must have a minimum of eight teams to apply, by year three 10 teams, year six 12 teams. Also 75 percent of the league’s teams must play in metropolitan markets of at least 750,000 persons. Meaning a market like Raleigh Durham would fit the bill but Des Moines would not.

Andrew Nestor, owner of FC Tampa Bay, released a statement this afternoon saying, “We welcome the new USSF Division 2 standards and feel that they are a necessary next step for the growth of soccer in North America. Our ownership group and organization meet the standards and I am confident that our NASL partners do as well. We will work diligently with USSF to ensure this. We look forward to a strong future for the Rowdies and the NASL.”

To read the entire USSF document click “read more”.

UNITED STATES SOCCER FEDERATION

PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE STANDARDS

  1. I. General Requirements for All Professional Leagues (Additional Specific Division Standards Listed Below):
    1. Composition; Play
      1. i.     League must determine a champion each year based on seasonal play or by means of a post-season playoff tournament.
      2. ii.     League playing rules must comply with all relevant FIFA guidelines and Laws of the Game.

 

  1. Markets; Stadia; and Fields
    1. i.     At least 75 percent of the league’s teams must be based in the United States.
    2. ii.     League stadiums must meet the following parameters:
      1. All stadiums/arenas must have controllable ingress/egress.
      2. All outdoor leagues: Playing surfaces for all teams must be at least 70 yards by 110 yards and be FIFA-approved.

 

  1. Coaches; Referees
  1. i.     The coaches of each of the league’s teams must hold a USSF “A” coaching license (or equivalent from the appropriate federation) within two years of their appointment.
  2. ii.     All games played by league teams in the United States must be refereed by Federation-licensed or approved referees assigned pursuant to league-specific policies set forth by the Federation, if any.

 

  1. Financial Viability
    1. i.     As specified for each division, the league must require each team to post with the league or, if so directed, with the Federation, an adequate performance bond or other security to secure the performance of the teams’ obligations (including, without limitation, player and staff salaries and wages, stadium lease commitments and third party vendor obligations in addition to commitments by each team to the league) for the current season.  In the case of a single-entity league, the league must provide, or demonstrate that it has, adequate security to ensure the performance of the league’s obligations for the current season.  The amount of any such bond or security shall be set by the Federation in its sole discretion.

 

  1. League Office
    1. i.     League must have a central office that is open during regular business hours year round.
    2. ii.     League must have a full-time employee who handles the responsibilities of a chief executive officer or commissioner.
    3. iii.     League must have an active publicity/public relations program.
    4. iv.     League must have an active marketing and sponsorship program.
    5. v.     League must have a director of officials or, with the Federation’s approval, may delegate such function to the Federation.
    6. vi.     League must have a professional registrar.
    7. vii.     League must have a disciplinary body or an executive group to review misconduct.
    8. viii.     League must have an executive committee.
  1. Media
    1. i.     League and each league team must produce an annual media guide.
    2. ii.     League must generate and disseminate weekly statistical reports and regular press releases.
    3. iii.     League or its teams must produce a line-up card or other similar guide for each individual game.

 

  1. Team Organization
    1. i.     Each team must have individuals handling responsibilities of the following positions: general manager, director of marketing/sales, director of communications/media relations, director of promotions/community relations, director of game operations, head coach, assistant coach, trainer, ticketing manager, finance director, and clerical staff.
    2. ii.     Each team must demonstrate its on-going commitment to the promotion of soccer at all levels in its home market.
    3. iii.     The league shall impose limitations on each team, set from time to time by the Federation, regarding the number of non-domestic (as defined by the Federation) players that may be listed on the roster.
    4. iv.     No owner may exercise control over more than one club in such a way that the integrity of any game or competition would be jeopardized.  If it is necessary for the viability of the league for an owner to own more than one team, the league and the owner must present the Federation with a plan how such owner will relinquish ownership of all but one team as soon as possible.  However, all teams must maintain independent operations to maintain the integrity of all games and competitions.

 

  1. Relationship with Federation
    1. i.     League must apply to become a member of the Federation and all teams must be and remain in good standing with the appropriate federation.  As part of the application process, the league must pay reasonable costs the Federation may incur for any review of the financial viability of the league and its teams.
    2. ii.     League must become and remain a member in good standing of the Federation.
    3. iii.     League must pay all applicable Federation fees and dues on a timely basis.
    4. iv.     League must submit to the Federation an annual report setting forth, in reasonable detail, the status of its compliance with these standards, including a description of how each team in the league is demonstrating its commitment to the promotion of soccer in its home market and the development of players at the youth level.
    5. v.     League must release its players to play on the U.S. national teams and shall actively support the U.S. national team programs.
    6. vi.     League must register its players with the Federation on a timely basis.
    7. vii.     Federation shall have the right to review any financial information, books and records of the league and teams, including any audits conducted by either the league or teams.  Federation shall have the right to require an independent audit at its own expense of the league or teams.  In the event such an independent audit establishes material irregularities, the cost of the audit shall be paid by the league or team, as applicable.
    8. viii.     League must have a code of conduct that is signed by all teams and players.
    9. ix.     Teams shall provide attendance figures and gross gate reports as requested by the Federation.
    10. x.     Team and league shall notify the Federation if the team has payables overdue by thirty (30) days or more for the team’s players, its stadium authority, the league or the team’s key vendors.

 

  1. Waiver Procedures

 

  1. i.     League may request a temporary waiver from compliance with a Standard.  Any such request must be made in writing to the Federation and explain in detail (a) the Standard for which a waiver is sought, and (b) the reasons why a waiver is necessary.    Waivers may only be requested for one year.
  2. ii.     Waiver requests will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.  However, in no event will a waiver be granted with respect to FIFA guidelines or the Laws of the Game without FIFA approval.

 

  1. II. Division II Men’s Outdoor League:
    1. Composition; Play
      1. i.     League must have a minimum of eight teams to apply.  By year three, the league must have a minimum of 10 teams.  By year six, the league must have a minimum of 12 teams.
      2. ii.     U.S.-based teams must participate in all representative CONCACAF competitions for which they are eligible.
  1. Markets; Stadia; and Fields
    1. i.     In the first year, U.S.-based teams must be located in at least two different time zones in the continental United States.  By year six, U.S.-based teams must be located in at least three different time zones.
    2. ii.     At least 75 percent of the league’s teams must play in metropolitan markets of at least 750,000 persons.
    3. iii.     League stadiums must have a minimum seating capacity of 5,000.
    4. iv.     Not later than 120 days prior to the start of each season, each team shall have a lease for one full season with its home stadium.
  1. Financial Viability
    1. i.     Each team must submit a letter of credit in the amount of $750,000 with the joint beneficiaries being the Federation and the league in a form satisfactory to the Federation on an annual basis.   The letter of credit will be used to cover the costs of the team’s operations (including, without limitation, player and staff salaries and wages, stadium lease commitments and third party vendor obligations in addition to commitments by each team to the league) for a season should that become necessary.  The letters of credit must be submitted 120 days prior to the start of the next season for each team.  Any team that utilizes the letter of credit during the season will be required to replenish the letter of credit at least 120 days prior to the next year.
    2. ii.     Each team ownership group must demonstrate the financial capacity to operate the team for three years.  As part of the process of demonstrating financial capacity, each ownership group must provide detailed financial history, verifiable individual financial net worth statements for each member of its ownership group owning at least a five percent (5%) interest in the team and projections (including a detailed budget) for the team to the Federation in a form satisfactory to the Federation.
    3. iii.     Each team must have and designate one principal owner that owns at least 35% of the team and has authority to bind the team.  Such principal owner must have an individual net worth of at least twenty million US dollars exclusive of the value of his/her ownership in the league or team.
    4. iv.     Any prospective team principal owner must meet with Federation staff regarding the responsibilities of owning a team.  In the case of a new league, each team principal owner in the new league and the senior league personnel must meet with Federation staff on an individual basis, as required by the Federation.
    5. v.     The league will furnish to the Federation prompt written notice of the following (and, in any event, within five business days of the league obtaining knowledge thereof):
      1. any violation of these standards,  specifying the nature and extent thereof and the corrective action (if any) taken or proposed to be taken with respect thereto;
      2. the filing or commencement of, or any written threat or notice of intention of any person to file or commence, any action, suit, litigation or proceeding, whether at law or in equity by or before any governmental authority, against the league or one or more teams in the league that could reasonably be expected to result in a Material Adverse Effect.
      3. any development that has resulted in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, a Material Adverse Effect.
      4. “Material Adverse Effect” shall mean a material adverse change in or effect on the business, condition (financial or otherwise), results of operations, assets or liabilities of the league and/or its teams, individually or taken as a whole; (b) the ability of the league or its teams to perform any of its obligations under these Standards; or (c) the ability of the league or its teams to meet any of their financial obligations.
  1. Team Organization
    1. i.     All of the required positions must be filled by full-time staff during the season.

 

 

90 Responses
  1. thesuperrookie permalink
    August 12, 2010

    An owner can only own one team. Guess that means Jeff Cooper can’t own three teams :)

  2. August 12, 2010

    Charleston wouldn’t fit the bill either, but you could still have 25% of your teams in markets like a Charleston or a Des Moines.

  3. Steven permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Wow, how many currents teams actually met this standards?

  4. Steven permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Wow, I should really read what I write before I post, sorry.

  5. Mike permalink
    August 12, 2010

    So Puerto Rico and Minnesota are destine for D3 pretty much.

  6. Mike permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Wow, same here Steven.

  7. Steven permalink
    August 12, 2010

    I wonder how the Canadian teams in D-2 will handle this announcement?

  8. tomASS permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Des Moines represents about 20% of the state’s total population and not much to do down there unless you farm.

    Lets say Portland ME wanted to have a team. They represent 39% of the state’s total population with probably another 10-15 % within 30 minutes of Portland ME and less then 40 minutes away another huge fan base in Portsmouth, NH. But based upon the 750,000 requirement Portland Me still falls short by about 200,000 even though that there are fans everywhere.

    Was there a business model they applied when determining 750,000 ?

  9. Oolong4Go permalink
    August 12, 2010

    I really don’t think they can come up with a 8 team league that would satisfy this for next year. So either they let lots of things slide, or we have D3 soccer that looks a lot like D2 did this year.

    Eric

  10. Zlatan permalink
    August 12, 2010

    USSF is clearly setting this up to be an MLS owned league (as I predicted last year when USSF stepped in.) Few of the current team will invest this type of money. Too bad, MN will probably be without a team in D2. Go NPSL…I guess.

  11. Daniel Feuerstein permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Nice Job Brian. Once again excellent work with what’s going on with Division 2 Soccer in the USA.

  12. August 12, 2010

    From what I understand, the Austin Aztex are capable of fulfilling all of the obligations in the requirements for a team. I hope they are willing to. Nothing too dramatic from what we saw earlier, other than the 75% of teams in the league needing to be in markets of 750,000 or greater. That’s an odd one, considering some of the more successful clubs like Puerto Rico (450,000) and Cary, NC (134,000) wouldn’t qualify.

    One thing that I don’t see that was discussed in the requirement for a Soccer Specific Stadium (SSS) in 3 years. Did this disappear?

  13. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 12, 2010

    Only thing missing to me is the part about teams having to offer top quality live streaming of all games.

  14. pony permalink
    August 12, 2010

    @matthew

    Cary is only 134,000, but the Raleigh-Durham metro definately qualifies.

  15. Flacotex permalink
    August 12, 2010

    I did notice that D2 is to follow FIFA guidelines and laws of the game. Does that mean that D2 will get rid of the absurd rule that lets teams sub up to 5 or 6 players in a game? I really hope so. It really irritates me when I see it happen.

    I would hope that the league would count cities around a teams location. The Raleigh-Durham-Carey area has over 750,000 according to the link above.

    Thanks for the continuous updates on this topic. It will be interesting to see if 8 teams will qualify for this league next year.

  16. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 12, 2010

    ” But many are brand new and are pretty tough. There’s no doubt after reading these standards that USSF will watch over this league carefully and not accept the behavior that has happened in the past.”

    Shame on USSF for tolerating bad behavior in the past!!! I think someone should take USSF to the woodshed for condoning prior poor business practices!!! As far as I am concerned, the USSF is just as gulity as anyone else for what has happened!!! I am frusterated!!!

  17. August 12, 2010

    Matt, Puerto Rico can comply with the 750k metro area population easily. The US Census Bureau defined San Juan Metro Area (where our stadium is located) as of 2009 had a population (Census Bureau stimated) of 2, 617, 089 inhabitants. Distances on our island are not quite what they are on the continental states. Municipalities are quite close to each other, we are only 100 mi X 35 mi. Counting only the 3 contiguous municipalities closest to our park we already have the 750k. And they are at most 20 minutes apart but visually are one contiguous city.

    San Juan 422,665
    Bayamon 227, 689
    Guaynabo 100,053

    tot 750, 407

    The metro area also includes Carolina, Toa Baja, Cataño, Dorado, Trujillo Alto and even Caguas.

    As I see it the toughest requirement to comply with is the 20 mill net worth principal owner. I don’t believe we have such a guy in our team. It’s been said in our grapevine that a state government agency owns part of the team. This agency is definitely worth net more than 20 mill, but it is yet to be seen if the USSF requires this principal owner to be an individual or if it would be acceptable for it to be a legal/fiscal entity.

  18. HandBall permalink
    August 13, 2010

    I agree with Soccer Boy. Gulati and the USSF fell asleep at the wheel on this one last year and are now trying to make up for their mistake. Lets keep it real folks, the USSF is putting these tight guidelines in hopes to show FIFA that they should be hosting the 2022 WC. USSF has minimal care for D2 at this point. They just don’t want them to ruin their chances for hosting the WC………btw, has anyone checked to see how many MLS teams meet these standards or have met them in the past?

  19. August 13, 2010

    Thanks to Yeivo and Pony for the clarifications on PR and Carolina pops. I have always liked the sides, and personally feel that to lose them, even to D3, would be a loss for whatever league we get in.

  20. yankiboy permalink
    August 13, 2010

    What the Great Yeivo said.

    The Metro-area number is a piece of cake. I’m glad that there is no requirment for a SSS. It’s the ca$h that Puerto Rico will struggle with.

  21. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    The part that I think is probably the most important is the Waiver Procedures section. For Austin, I expect that for the next three years (at least), we’ll ask for a waiver on the stadium. House Park is well short of 70 yards wide, and there, quite literally, isn’t another stadium in the entire metro Austin area that meets the standards described. OK, there’s Mike Myers at UT. But there’s no way for us to use that stadium for the length of the D2 season. And it’s way too big.

    Waiver Procedures are the wiggle room that, depending on how anal the USSF gets about it, might be big enough to drive Puerto Rico and Minnesota through.

  22. Neal permalink
    August 13, 2010

    I am going to buy one lottery ticket tonight.

  23. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @Neal: I have been trying that approach for a number of years now.

  24. WSW permalink
    August 13, 2010

    As far as we know only 2 teams actually fit the standard: Tampa ( the owner released a statement) and Montreal.

  25. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @WSW: the field inside Steinbrenner is 70 yards wide?

  26. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    And more: I’m pretty sure Miami, Carolina and Rochester also fit the standard.

  27. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    Here’s what I have for my rundown of the various teams:

    Those that can meet all standards:

    Montreal
    Carolina
    Rochester
    Miami

    Those that can handle the money calls, but will need a stadium waiver:

    Tampa Bay
    Austin
    Edmonton

    Notice that we are already at seven at this point, so we only need one of the following to meet the minimum eight.

    Those that have stadiums, but will need a waiver on one or both of the money requirements:

    Puerto Rico
    Minnesota

    Can probably handle the money calls, and has a stadium, but is unknown as to whether people are too pissed off at him to let him in, or he’s too pissed off at everyone to want to be a part of the league:

    St. Louis

    Completely unknown, but was at the meeting:

    Baltimore

    Moving to MLS, but was at the meeting with the intention of having a D2 team in the future:

    Vancouver (though who knows where their D2 team would actually play, so we’re well into speculation territory here).

    (apologies if I screwed up the HTML.)

  28. fotbalist permalink
    August 13, 2010

    I’ve got concerns about the $20 mil, but I have to agree that everything else looks pretty good. It might be a bit much for many of the teams at this point. However, I think the new administrative standards will improve the quality of marketing, ticket sales, branding, etc. All of these in turn will create a more popular league which will produce more revenue (not likely, but hey…).

    I’d like to see some standards about player salaries.

    The last thing USSF has to do is throw in pro/rel and you will immediately have more investors. But I do agree that USSF is sowing FIFA that they have muscles in the soccer/sports world at home. I’m sure that has to do with WC 2022 (as HandBall said) but we’ve got some time between now and when 2022 will be decided so, I hope that whatever effort they put in now, will carry through.

    TO ERic: I think Edmonton will be fine at the Commonwealth Stadium.
    Vancouver could even field their D2 team right in the Lower Mainland (all 1.5 hrs drive from Vancouver). My guess is that they will likely explore Victoria or Calgary though.

  29. fotbalist permalink
    August 13, 2010

    IF the USSF was really smart they would set the D3 standards at the same time.

  30. fotbalist permalink
    August 13, 2010

    One last thing. Why are we upset that our local newspapers and TV sports programs don’t cover soccer well, if the USSF website still doesn’t have the new D2 standards posted. I think they should be right on the home page front and center…at least on USSF site, please. arghhh

  31. WSW permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @eric
    Steinbrenner field for Rowdies is 104 yards long and 70 yards wide.

  32. August 13, 2010

    None of the current D2 markets will be booted based on market size, as Rochester is smallest. However, given Rochester’s current business model and what they need to do to break even, I would think that 750,000 is optimistic. Will Grand Rapids really support a team playing in a coast-to-coast soccer league? My concern, as always, would be that the USSF is missing the point a little. I’ve been working on an article for my blog about how an international soccer league at the second tier is a mistake and the current structure is an accident of circumstance. Baseball is vastly more popular and triple A baseball is centrally-marketed and heavily-subsidised by their parent clubs. However, they wouldn’t be so stupid to run a national league at that level. So why are the USSF?

  33. Brendan permalink
    August 13, 2010

    The Greater Rochester Metropolitan Area has over a million people. The standards call for a market size, not the population within the city limits.

  34. pony permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @ fotbalist

    FC Edmonton is set to play at Foote Feild at the University of Alberta. The ownership has made it very clear that they aren’t interested in play at Commonwealth, and created its high rent and lack of atmosphere for the dimise of previous D2 franchises (coupled with a lack committed local ownership group and no support from USL).

  35. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @WSW: Thanks. In that case, Tampa is good. Hadn’t paid quite close enough attention to them using Steinbrenner, and soccer fields in baseball stadiums.

    @fotbalist & pony: I forgot that Canadian football has a larger field than US football. Googling around, it looks like Foote might meet the 70 yards minimum width, barely. But maybe not. But it doesn’t meet the 5,000 seat minimum. So they’re still on the stadium waiver list, unless they can add some temp seating somehow.

  36. pony permalink
    August 13, 2010

    FC Edmonton has claimed that they only plan on playing at Foote for a few years and will be actively pursuing a SSS.

  37. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 13, 2010

    I would hate to see a club like the Stars lose out on a chance to stay D2 just becuase of some stupid $ issue/wealth of majority owner. If you look at all the teams, the Stars are really a unique entity. They own their own facilities-and a SSS. They have had staff in place prior to be granted a franchise. (I assume they have hired additional people, and their existing staff is working more hours, but they have estblished business operations already in palce.) They also have foundational requirements–fiscal responsibilies and obligation. They also have prior expereinces unique to soccer like running, among other things, that little soccer tourney called the USA Cup. Okay, they have not done everything perfect this year, but I know they are learning from their mistakes.

    Quite frankly, I would love to see a club like the Stars sue USSF under RICO and/or federal anti-trust laws if USSF is going to strictly enforce some “requirements” instead of others. You know USSF will back down becuase they want their WC. (BTW, let’s open up all the books over at USSF–just to make sure you guys are being a good fiduciary of soccer in America.)

    Again, shame on you Sunil Gulati/USSF for doing a terrible job supervising D2 soccer in the US! To me this is like BP pointing the finger at someone else and trying to walk away from it. Face it, this is a problem you helped create. You better fix it with a velvet glove and not an iron fist!

  38. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @pony: I remember them claiming that. But teams can claim all they want (that’s been one of the major problems with D2 for years). Now there are clear standards, and with the plans Edmonton have laid out for next season they don’t meet the stadium requirement, so they’ll need a waiver. And they’ll need one for as long as they play at Foote unless then can fit a 70 yard wide field in there and they can add another 15oo seats.

  39. pony permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @ERic

    I believe BQ said the other day that D2 clubs have 5 years to work-out their stadium situations (confirmation, please). The size of the feild is not going to be an issue, but the seating and being “SSS” is in Edmonton. They say they are actively persuing a SSS as soon as possible.

    Besides, Austin is nowhere near meeting this requirement, and good luck getting a SSS built down there!

  40. Trevor permalink
    August 13, 2010

    In general, I find these measures to be pretty sound. It’s going to be tough to meet them, but I believe that most are in the best interest of soccer in the US.

    The one gripe I have–the one that is, for me, a perhaps a poison pill which ruins the whole bunch–is the rule that stipulates that each team must have a single owner which controls 35% of a team. I know that this isn’t a problem given the dominant team ownership model of the US today, but this all but shuts the door on future public ownership models. It just makes me sad that D-II may never see a true football/soccer club.

  41. ERic permalink
    August 13, 2010

    @pony

    Re: Austin getting a stadium — tell me about it!:)

    I’ve lived in Austin for 30 years, so I know what the process is like for things like this — impossible! It’s my one big worry in this whole thing as far as the Aztex go. I wasn’t intending to be overly negative about Edmonton, just trying to place it in the proper place on the list.

    I don’t know anything about the politics or real estate environment up that way, so I couldn’t even guess as to how easy it will be for them to build their own. I’m just skeptical, and until they announce a solid stadium plan, and maybe even until shovels hit dirt, they’re in the same category as Austin. DC United has been “actively pursuing an SSS as soon as possible” for 15 years now.

    But, as I said, that changes if they can arrange a situation that meets the USSF requirements. With Canadian football, it might just be a little easier for them. They only need a place with the right size stands.

    As to when the out-of-compliance teams need to get in line… well, the D2 standards above give no time line. The preliminary ones that came out Monday (see the IMN post from that day) said “SSS within 3 years,” but that’s not on the list above, so it seems like that isn’t official. Instead, what we have is the waiver clause.

    So, what does that mean? Does it mean that the three year limit is an undocumented ‘threat’? To quote the document “Waiver requests will only be granted in exceptional circumstances”. What constitutes exceptional? Would something be exceptional for three years? Five? Or just one?

    That’s the thing that makes me most nervous. For teams like Puerto Rico and Minnesota, money can be found. With the ratification of these standards, I think we’re seeing something put in place that reminds me of what happened in Seattle regarding MLS. We’re going to see people with money that want to own a D2 team pointed toward locations that make sense.

    I actually think that building a stadium (especially here in Austin) is going to be much harder than finding a money man to meet the financial requirements.

  42. fotbalist permalink
    August 14, 2010

    @ Trevor.
    Thanks for bringing up the point about ‘the dominant ownership model’ which I’ve disliked when it is offered as the exclusive option. I don’t mind it as an option but I believe it’s truly unfair to make it mandatory. I like your suggestions of public ownership. I like the scenario with PR where even governmental agencies are part owners. I also like the non-profit model, with membership, volunteer Board of Trustees/Directors who hire administrative & coaching staff, and contract players. Having said all this I agree that the US/Canadian soccer market may not be ready for all these.

    @Zlatan.
    I do remember that you predicted that USSF might want to make D2 somewhat of an MLS owned league. It may shape up this way, which would be really sad.

  43. August 14, 2010

    Purely for the sake of argument, I can informally announce on behalf of the Orlando-USL/D-2 supporters contingent that we’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing since the press conference here five months ago: waiting patiently, with not much in the way of any news to mention.

    And now hoping these new USSF criteria in some way or another help the chances of our supposed team come to life for next season.

  44. thesuperrookie permalink
    August 14, 2010

    Fotbalist- I wouldn’t put much weight into Zlatan’s predictions. He is, after all, the guy that said the NSC Stars would only win one game all season and that the sad was made up of garbage players.

  45. Trevor permalink
    August 14, 2010

    @Soccer Boy said:
    “Quite frankly, I would love to see a club like the Stars sue USSF under RICO and/or federal anti-trust laws if USSF is going to strictly enforce some “requirements” instead of others. You know USSF will back down becuase they want their WC. (BTW, let’s open up all the books over at USSF–just to make sure you guys are being a good fiduciary of soccer in America.)”

    Boy, you sure don’t know the USSF or FIFA. These are the big boys, and they don’t back down; they black list you, strip you of your status, and then make sure everyone in the world knows that it’s your fault, not there’s.

    Good luck finding support for a team that could single-handedly destroy the US WC bid and even a chance to play in the next WC. If the Stars tried to sue USSF (which they won’t do, because they barely have the budget to keep the club together, let alone pay for a drawn out legal battle against the Galactic Empire of soccer), they could very much be that team. Just look at what was happening in Chile this spring.

  46. August 14, 2010

    All stadia must have at least 5,000 seats? This is a stupid rule.

    Cleveland City Starts did brilliantly as a USL-2 club in a small, downtown, soccer-specific stadium. They were then “promoted” to USL-1, and one of the conditions was that they had to play in a larger venue. So off they went to Bedford to play in the 5,000-capacity Middlefield Cheese Stadium, complete with a running track and throwball lines. The result? The club was dead within less than a year.

    I don’t think stadium requirements should be as black-and-white as “5,000-capacity or not”. Perhaps there should be a points system, where a potential stadium receives points if it has a 5,000+ capacity, if it is downtown (or close to downtown), if it is accessible by public transportation, if it has a running track or not, if it has throwball lines or not, etc.

    I can understand that there have to be some basic standards for stadia, especially if USSF is planning to start MLS2… but let’s be realistic about what D2 clubs can achieve at present.

    I’d much rather see a club play in a downtown, soccer-specific, intimate venue that always sells out its matches, than see a club play in a multi-use, suburban-buried, public transit-inaccessable stadium that always has thousands of empty seats. Besides, sold-out venues create demand and atmosphere. Stadiums that are 70% empty create neither.

  47. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 14, 2010

    @Trevor, I certainly understand the politics of FIFA and the USSF, and I am by no means ignorant. It would certainly be a nuclear option, but something that must be considered. It would not be the Stars fault–strictly USSF’s if they want to run around and play kingmaker. USSF needs to play fair, and I do not see them doing that. If they want to build soccer in the USA, they need to act in American soccer’s best interest. That is their mission, right?

  48. pony permalink
    August 15, 2010

    PREDICTION: NSCM Stars & PR Isalanders will be given a one-year exemption while searching for a 35% majority investor. No source, just a hunch.

  49. WSW permalink
    August 15, 2010

    The reason they have the 5,000 attendance figure is because that’s the profitability point, any attendance after 5,000 is a profit for the team.

  50. August 15, 2010

    WSW: Not necessarily. 5,000 is a completely arbitrary figure. There are a lot of things that affects a club’s financial bottom line: squad size, average player salary, cost of stadium rent/lease, whether the club makes money from stadium concessions sales or not, number of office staff, amount of sponsorship revenue, profit/loss from kiddie camps, etc.

    Did Cleveland City Stars make a big financial loss in their small, intimate, downtown-located stadium when they played in USL-2? Because it was their (forced?) move to a 5,000-capacity, suburban-located, multi-sport venue that reduced the crowds, and thus killed the club.

    I could be wrong, but my impression is that Cleveland drew bigger crowds at their smaller stadium. Thus why the USSF’s insistence on a fairly large stadium capacity size seems silly and simplistic to me.

    IMHO, downtown stadia located in or near entertainment districts should be the ultimate goal for USSF. Look at how well Seattle and Portland (the latter still in D2) do in terms of attendance, whereas look how poorly the likes of Minnesota do.

  51. ERic permalink
    August 15, 2010

    @pony: I’m with you on the prediction. I also expect that Cooper and the NASL and USSF will get past what happened this season and we’ll see St. Louis in next year as well.

    However, that still leaves an issue on the “75% US teams” rule. Would they let that skate because PR is a US whateveritis? If they don’t, then PR still might not be allowed to pass.

  52. UNCfan permalink
    August 15, 2010

    Looking at all this, it still won’t stop teams from failing if they can’t draw, and that is what they need. After all this, there is still no guarantee that bitter USL clubs will work with NASL after last winter’s fight should USL drop the bid, and they would be left with 6 clubs that are known to be passable.

  53. Bart permalink
    August 15, 2010

    St. Louis? Ha ha ha ha ha….

    You think Cooper has a net worth of $20,000,000? That boy is all hat and no ranch.

  54. pony permalink
    August 15, 2010

    @ ERic

    According to the 24th Minute (www.24thminute.com) that rule is not a new one. I suspect it will be strictly imforced, as long as the sanctioned league shows a desire and plan to expand further into other US markets.

  55. CoconutMonkey permalink
    August 16, 2010

    I’m really glad they released this information to the public. It seems like the Federation is asking a lot from clubs very suddenly.

    But, if these requirements run the risk of essentially pricing a few clubs out of D2, I’d really like to see what their requirements are for the 1st and 3rd divisions.

  56. August 16, 2010

    I’ve been out of town for a nice 3-day weekend with no internet, tv or cell coverage. I’m back at work today and later today will attempt to answer a few of the questions those some of you have had or comments that you have made that may have been a bit misguided without understanding the background.

    More later…

  57. ERic permalink
    August 16, 2010

    @pony

    The question for me is whether Puerto Rico could skate by because it is, legally, a part of the US. As far as Fed rules go, since they have their own FA (and compete in World Cup qualifying as a separate entity), they should probably be counted as NOT being a US-based team. But legally, constitutionally, they are a part of the US. So it can be argued both ways.

    It’s really sad, to me, that PR is stuck in this situation. They’re a good team with a good history, but at the moment appear to have three barriers that they’ll need to get past to be allowed in D2 next season. And while it’s not the USSF’s responsibility to grow the game outside the US, I also think it would be wrong of them to potentially harm some nice progress that’s going on in Puerto Rico.

  58. WSW permalink
    August 16, 2010

    United States Soccer Federation – Division 2: A group of cities is planning a Western Conference of pro soccer teams at the USSF Second Division level for the 2011 season. Phoenix (Monsoon), San Diego, Anaheim, Sacramento, San Jose, and Los Angeles are planned for 2011 with Las Vegas joining in 2012.
    North American Soccer League: The group trying to bring a new Canadian Football League franchise to Ottawa by 2013 is also interested in bringing a Division II NASL franchise to the city by 2013 or 2014. Another group in Hamilton (Ontario) has secured franchise rights for an NASL franchise that would play in a proposed new stadium that could be built in the next couple of years.

    http://www.oursportscentral.com/serv…es/?id=4047544

  59. August 16, 2010

    WSW, the link brings you to a generic Our Sports Central site. Did you mean to link to something specific. You do know that I reported this story previously. (A group of cities is planning a Western Conference of pro soccer teams at the USSF Second Division level for the 2011 season. Phoenix (Monsoon), San Diego, Anaheim, Sacramento, San Jose, and Los Angeles are planned for 2011 with Las Vegas joining in 2012.)

    We have also talked about the Bob Young Hamilton franchise a number of times.

    Can you get more specific please.

  60. pony permalink
    August 16, 2010

    I thought the Western Soccer Conference was looking at being D3 in 2011, with some clubs moving to D2 in 2012. Is that not what the PHX Monsoon founder said?

  61. WSW permalink
    August 16, 2010

    @Brian

    You have to go to Weekly Sports Leagues and franchise report. and it’ in the USSF and NASL section. I have heard of Phoenix but I didn’t know so many teams are interested. the link doesn’t go there.

  62. August 16, 2010

    Thanks. MLS Soccer.com linked twice last week.

  63. August 16, 2010

    BTW, I talked to Rob Clark last week and was in contact with him again yesterday. He is sitting tight and contemplating his options. I can tell you that besides the few teams in jeopardy, there are a few that can make qualifications but are annoyed with the high standards and are considering their options for next year. I will make a post about this at some point, but it’s not entirely impossible that D2 could go dark next season. More on that later.

  64. Old Man Defender permalink
    August 17, 2010

    ?

  65. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 17, 2010

    “but it’s not entirely impossible that D2 could go dark next season. ”

    …and if all that happens, we can all send a nice ‘thank you’ to USSF for promoting soccer in the United States. Geez, it just makes me love USSF so much!

  66. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 17, 2010

    I read this last night and Im still having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea. If one of the main problems is attendance, why would anyone think that a year off would help? It seems to me that if ever there was a ‘show must go on!’ scenario…this is it!

  67. Palmer permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Not having a D2 doesn’t mean there’d be no soccer – it doesn’t even mean that teams like Austin and Tampa Bay wouldn’t play, geniuses. USSF could say “Sorry, you’re D3. Carry on.”

    Soccer Boy: “…and if all that happens, we can all send a nice ‘thank you’ to USSF for promoting soccer in the United States.”

    Yes, by golly, because it’ll be THEIR fault for having standards that people like NSC Minnesota can’t live up to. We should FOR CERTAIN have a D2 that just lets anybody in so the newbie can continue to have a team near him that draws a thousand people a game. Yippee.

    I swear to God, newbies are ridiculous. Get brains.

  68. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Wow!

    Palmer = jerk!

  69. Palmer permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Wow!

    Grant Stephens = fanboy!

  70. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 17, 2010

    What are you getting at there?

    The sad part is, Palmer, you made a great point…but then you had to cloud it by being a real prick!

    Anyone else have some intelligent discussion?

  71. August 17, 2010

    While I don’t totally disagree with Mr. Palmer, he has received a yellow card. IMS is about the free interchange of ideas. It’s encouraged. Personal attacks are not. I tried to email you Palmer but you must have left a fake email. I do have your IP however. Since you received a yellow your free to comment but you are also sitting on a yellow. Another one and the IP address goes into the spam software.

  72. WSW permalink
    August 17, 2010

    I think Montreal, Rochester, Tampa, Miami,Carolina,Austin have the funds and are probably safe. So Edmonton would make 7 teams. So it looks like they would have to go the western conference route…..

  73. jay permalink
    August 17, 2010

    The entirety of the experience has brought me to one conclusion: USSF has finally taken a hard look at the teams and league(s) that have presumed to call themselves D2, and found them wholly lacking. Out of the mess the Federation has produced a baseline for leagues and teams that produce at a higher level than what has been the status quo to date — and in the process told the existing team and league structures that they aren’t good enough.

    Specifically this isn’t the Federation telling USL/NASL that aren’t good enough, but rather that they need to either shape up or make room for something better. Hell, a good chunk of the conversation to date has been about creating regional leagues out of the existing teams, and USSF is talking about D2 specifically being 3 time zones wide. They’re expecting more: more promotional efforts, more stability, more business acumen. If some of the existing teams can get their druthers about them and ante up, great, but they don’t get to hold their place in line just because nothing superior has arrived yet.

    Credit to USSF. I think the whole thing is great.

  74. Grant Stephens permalink
    August 17, 2010

    It would be a real shame to lose St. Louis from a geographical stand point. They would fill that space between Edmonton, Austin, and Minnesota perfectly. Thinking along the same lines, PR is a convenient rival for the Florida teams and would be a great loss to any league.

    I hope the powers that be dont overlook the ‘on-field’ product that we have this year. As soccer fans we couldnt ask for a more entertaining league, could we? 4 months in and everyone is still alive for a playoff spot. There hasnt been a runaway favorite all year (even Austin is losing ground!) or a doormat (Miami is still breathing!) Also, no team has hit the 5 goal mark on anybody, and there hasnt been more than a 3 goal margin in any one game. All of this and the ability to follow your team via free live stream (mostly!) when they travel makes for a pleasurable ‘first year’ experience.

    Six more home games for TB, and all with Playoff Implications…hopefully that will help pack ‘The George’

  75. August 17, 2010

    Brian, I’ve actually done a little blog on this very subject. I hate to be a spammer but I’d really appreciate if you took some time out to have a brief look.

  76. August 17, 2010

    Pretty good stuff Michael. A little harsh but overall I would say I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I do think they needed to tighten up the standards, but I am hearing from the owners or management of teams, that the owners in part agree with US Soccer but feel there may have been other ways to achieve this same thing without such high standards that it will make it tough to have a D2 league next year or any year.

    http://is.gd/emkCC

  77. Soccer Boy permalink
    August 17, 2010

    “Such principal owner must have an individual net worth of at least twenty million US dollars exclusive of the value of his/her ownership in the league or team.”

    Brain, can you provide clarification on the above statement, and I apologize for trying to play legal gymnastics with everything. However, for legal purposes, I think the NSC could qualify without an investor. “Net worth” does not necessarily have to be all liquid cash. try and tell me the NSC and all that it owns does not have assets great than $20 million. (Yeah, I understand it might not be liquid.) I am also curious about what it means to be a “principal owner.” Does this have to be a natural born human? For legal purposes, the NSC is a “person.” Therefore, there is a person with a net worth greater than $20 million.

    I do think a private investor would be a positive thing for the team and soccer in MN. I think this would allow decisions to be made in a quicker fashion as it is my understanding that the NSC has specific procedures they need to follow when unanticipated stuff comes up. Maybe Glen Taylor can throw some cash to the NSC now that he has been saving it up over the years with the T-Wolves payroll?

  78. August 17, 2010

    I can’t really help you with that. You have the document in its entirety just as I received it. The only thing I can tell you is that those who were at the meeting stated that Sunil made it clear that they were going to make sure these standards were upheld and each and every team would be scrutinized closely. I don’t think your Net Worth standard flies with USSF and what they are looking to accomplish.

    I mean look at this: Each team ownership group must demonstrate the financial capacity to operate the team for three years. As part of the process of demonstrating financial capacity, each ownership group must provide detailed financial history, verifiable individual financial net worth statements for each member of its ownership group owning at least a five percent (5%) interest in the team and projections (including a detailed budget) for the team to the Federation in a form satisfactory to the Federation.

    That too is vague but also tough. To me, these standards are so tough and so controlling that I will say again, I think there is a good chance that D2 goes dark next year.

  79. pony permalink
    August 18, 2010

    MLSR is reporting Austin & Rochester dropping to D3.
    http://www.mls-rumors.net/10545/2010/08/report-2011-d2-adding-south-forida-team-while-rochester-and-austin-moving-to-d3-in-2012/
    BQ, heard anything?

  80. August 18, 2010

    Yes, I have been hearing that and they are not the only ones. However, this is all speculation right now. I talked to Rob Clark, owner of the Rochester last week after the meeting and we communicated again on Sunday evening. Sure he’s thinking about that, but he’s also thinking about staying in. He frustrated by a number of things in the new standards as Devo posted in an article last week. But Rob is a hard working passionate guy. Meaning he can say something today but possibly do something differently next week. As I have posted in the comments here somewhere, Rob is still contemplating his options.

    So is Austin and MN and PR and CP if they can find a new investor. If they get a new owner perhaps they stay D2. But right now they don’t deserve to me playing D2 and its these kind of situations that has caused USSF to play bad guy here.

    Who knows with St. Louis, Cooper has managed to piss off the USL, the NASL and the USSF. (Note to Jeff Cooper: It’s probably a bad idea not to have any allies when you will need to partner with someone for next season.)

    So who’s stable? Not to many at the present time. No big revalation with Rumors.

    Pony, last time I called MLS Rumors by another name they got all pissy with me and sent me emails so I’ll call them by their actual web name this time. But I love a site thats correct about 605 of the time at best and who’s writers and owners won’t come forward and take accountability for what they print. On top of that, no matter what browser I used it’s nearly impossible to load the site and bombs on me all the time. There’s no doubt they do have inside sources, but there is no accountability and that’s what I don’t like. I will not frequent that site.

  81. Max permalink
    August 18, 2010

    Can the NSC Minnesota Stars go Division 3 next year if they do not find investors?

  82. JTaylor permalink
    August 18, 2010

    Brian,

    Rumors of Austin being demoted down to D3 are false (MLSRumors.com). Here are Djorn R. Buchholz (Chief Executive Officer of Aztex) comments from an email he sent me.

    “I can assure you that the rumors you heard on MLSRumors.com are just that, rumors. This club has no intention of playing D3 soccer. Yes, the new D2 standards are quite strict, but our ownership group has assisted US Soccer in setting those guidelines and we meet them. I do appreciate your email and rest assured, we will play D2 Soccer for years to come.”

    Good News for Austin. I hope good news for the others as well.

  83. August 18, 2010

    They can go D3 with or without investors if USL allows them in. NSC still is on good relations with the USL so that could be a possibility. My question is, if they did would their attendance be any better. This is a major league town. D2 is already a stretch in my opinion. D3 is really a stretch.

  84. pony permalink
    August 18, 2010

    @BQ,
    Didn’t mean to open any wounds. Sorry.

  85. August 18, 2010

    No wounds at all. I couldn’t care less about what that website says. BTW, just got off the phone with both Rob Clark of the Rhinos and with Djorn Buchholz of Austin. I will have a report up later but I can tell you that the rumors on that site are nothing but rumors and are not true. Straight from the horses mouth. You know the funny thing is, it takes work to actually go out and get quotes and make sure you’re not harming someone’s reputation but spreading false stories. Its easy to write down what you hear. I think they may call that the telephone game and we know how that game goes.

  86. CACuzcatlan permalink
    August 18, 2010

    Does this mean Charleston is out since they don’t play in a metro area of at least 750k?

  87. ERic permalink
    August 18, 2010

    @CACuzcatlan:

    If they want to join D2, they can. The requirement is that at least 75% of the cities in it have a 750k metro. As they’re the only one that has that small a metro, they’d be allowed in. 7 of 8 (or 8 of 9, etc.)is more than 75%.

  88. WSW permalink
    August 20, 2010

    Another great blog and he includes Brian’s article:

    http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/blog.php?b=9778

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