USSF Board of Directors Narrowly Approves 1-year Provisional Sanctioning of NASL; AGM Must Still Ratify
In a narrow 6-5 vote with both U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber abstaining, the USSF Board of Directors approved the North American Soccer League (NASL) to provisionally sanction Division 2 pro soccer in the U.S. for 2011. The approval came with a special 1-year provisional status and must be ratified in today’s Annual General Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to sources close to the situation, U.S. Soccer’s review committee made up of Carlos Cordeiro, Executive Vice President Mike Edwards and Secretary General Dan Flynn met with NASL executives on Thursday evening. The committee reviewed the NASL’s financial documents and judged whether the proposed league met the tough new U.S. Soccer standards set for division 2 pro soccer. The committee had tough questions for the NASL in Thursday evening’s meeting and NASL officials left the meeting with good reason to be concerned.
On January 20, 2011, the same committee recommended rescinding the provisional status extended to the NASL at the November board meeting in Toronto at MLS Cup. At the time, U.S. Soccer said that financial requirements were the cause of reversal of their provisional status. Since then, it’s been learned that the Carolina RailHawks financial situation and the dissolution of Triangle Professional Sports, L.L.C. and its subsidiary, Carolina RailHawks, L.L.C. was the biggest concern for the committee. The NASL has since been in the process of starting a new team in Cary, North Carolina owned by Traffic Sports USA which will carry over the RailHawks name.
When that same review committee submitted their findings to the board on Friday morning they unanimously recommended the board deny the D2 sanctioning to the proposed league.
The NASL was allowed to make a brief presentation during the executive session on Friday morning which was unusual since they were the topic of discussion.
When all was said and done the board narrowly approved the NASL provisionally for 1-year and with other restrictions and directives. The board is requiring that the league have a clear plan on how they will remove Traffic Sports USA from owning Carolina and part ownership in Atlanta. They will be allowed to continue their ownership of Miami.
Another snafu resulting from the provisional sanctioning is U.S. Open Cup competition. It is unclear at this time whether U.S.-based NASL teams will be allowed to participate in this year’s competition or if they will be allowed without the automatic berth they’ve had in the past. If the latter is true it would mean teams would have to play-in to the competition like lower level teams. Clarification of this should come with the press release expected today. That decision is not expected to affect Edmonton, Montreal or Puerto Rico who are the foreign teams involved with the NASL and who will participate in their own domestic cup competitions.
The board should be able to amend the bylaws for allowance of this special 1-year provisional sanctioning with the ratification today. While it could be a point of contention, it’s likely the AGM will ratify the board’s recommendation.
With the directive from U.S. Soccer, the NASL is in for a tough 12 months. The league still has no real front office and it begins its season in 2 months. It will have to operate the league in its inaugural season under a very watchful USSF eye. NASL CEO Aaron Davidson will need to find new owners for Atlanta, Carolina and Minnesota (a league-owned team) as well as making sure San Antonio is ready to play in 2012 when Montreal leaves for MLS.
U.S. Soccer and NASL will make a joint press release sometime today, most likely after the AGM’s conclusion this afternoon.