NASL CEO Aaron Davidson Expressed Continued Optimism in Receiving Division 2 Sanctioning
Aaron Davidson was making the rounds on Monday night granting interview requests on a number of radio talk shows. He took time between those interviews to talk to IMS and explain what the NASL has done in response to US Soccer’s rejection of his league’s bid for sanctioning of D2 soccer last Thursday.
“We’ve supplemented our application,” declared Davidson. “We’ve provided the federation with what we believe was the missing information. We feel we live up to the standards of second division as they were set forth in October. Without a question we were surprised by the decision to withdraw the provisional sanctioning. But we also take it seriously and understand that the federation is exercising its role as the governing body of the sport in North America. They are demanding that we live up to those standards. Part of the reason they’re being so strict is because of the instability of where we come from. 106 teams have played in division two or three since 1996 and of those 84 folded. Fans don’t want to follow a team who’s in a league with those sort of stats and that much turnover.”
Davidson said that the bond of $750 thousand required by each team in the league is now joint and several, meaning that if a team was to go belly up, the federation could not only draw all the money out of that team’s account to pay their expenses but would then go pro rata across all teams until all outstanding debts are satisfied. The amount of that letter of credit for each team was in the standards posted in August but the ‘joint and several’ was not specified until recently. But Davidson says “it’s all for one and one for all” explaining he’s all right with that; it’s exactly what he’s been preaching since the days of the Team Owners Association’s breakaway group.
Davidson points out that with the joint and several rule there would be enough to cover the entire budgets of thee teams for an entire season. He stated that even San Antonio’s proposed NASL team for 2012 was required by US Soccer to put up the $750 thousand even though they wont play a game until next year.
“The Federation now have over $6 million in letters of credit that are joint and several for a league who runs budgets around $2 million a team,” said an optimistic Davidson. “Traffic is involved with three of the teams, the league is involved with Minnesota and Montreal stands on its own. That means there are three teams left this season that don’t have Traffic or Montreal behind them. If all three teams were to default immediately, you would still have enough money amongst the collective group to run all three of those teams for an entire season.”
The NASL CEO says there were some time requirements that were extended from the original standards: “Our last understanding based on our meetings with US Soccer in Baltimore [at the NSCAA Convention] was that we had until today to post our letters of credit. That was an additional extension. The standards were officially handed out in October. We were provisionally sanctioned in November. The federation then hired an auditing firm to do their audits of all the teams in the league. Things always take a little longer than what everyone expects them to. We’ve always said that we’ve been maintaining dialogue with the federation and there was some discussion. We’ve asked questions about some of the requirements they’ve made of us. Part of the debate was with this joint and several but we’ve readily accepted it.”
Davidson was asked if he was confident that the NASL has now submitted everything necessary to US Soccer and if they actually had time to evaluate their information again before the federation’s AGM in mid February.
“We’re all reasonable business people,” said Davidson. “The federation realizes that our teams are holding tryouts, were signing players, signing sponsorships; the league is selling teams on second division status. There’s a lot to be lost if we are not sanctioned. I don’t want to diminish the importance of what the federation did on Thursday. They made a decision to rescind our provisional sanctioning. However, I also want to be realistic. It’s the end of January and all of our teams are in the midst of preparation for the 2011 season based on expectations of being the second division. We’ve been doing everything we’ve had to do as teams and a league, maybe not on the timely basis the federation had expected and yes there’s been some changes like the Carolina situation since November. But if we all believe 2nd division soccer is important for the development of the game in North America and if we all recognize that the teams that are left are capable of living up to the standards of 2nd division, including posting 750 thousand dollar letters of credit for each team, then the thing to do is go forward with NASL as the 2nd division in 2011.”