IMS spoke with U.S. Soccer’s Neil Buethe late Friday afternoon. The USSF Media Relations Director confirmed that US Soccer had made a decision not to sanction the North American Soccer League for Division 2 pro soccer at this time.
“The NASL was granted provisional sanctioning on November 21 of last year,” explained Buethe. “At that time there were some waivers that NASL had requested. At the same time the board required site visits to certain teams, completion of financial audits and a few other financial requirements. Since then there’s been significant material changes in respect to NASL’s application. As a result the board, after careful consideration, decided not to sanction the NASL as a Division 2 professional league.”
Buethe explained that a review committee of Carlos Cordeiro, Executive Vice President Mike Edwards and Secretary General Dan Flynn presented their findings to the board on Thursday and the board made the decision not to sanction the NASL.
“The biggest hurdle was really some of the financial requirements,” said Buethe. He also said there where issues regarding ownership and organizational details to make sure the league was prepared to start the season, which is less than 3 months away.
“An unstable league or team can damage the market place and the sport overall if teams fold or have financial issues,” said Buethe. When pressed on the details of those financial requirements that were not met Buethe said he would not get into specifics or teams.
Buethe went on to explain that the USSF realized the need for enhanced pro league standards to help the long term stability of the league and the teams in the league.
“We wanted to create these professional league standards so we could ensure the long term stability of the leagues,” said Buethe. “Those standards were adapted in August. NASL was hoping we could waive one or two of those. When everything was looked at we said overall they are not meeting those standards that were set. We need to stick with those standards, there’s a reason why we made them. We’ve seen in the past that not following those standards sometimes can create issues when teams have financial problems.”
Buethe said the NASL had several options. One would be to reapply for D2 sanctioning any time it feels it meets those standards. Another option would be to apply for D3 sanctioning which would be separate from USL PRO. Buethe said it appeared that the NASL would fulfill those D3 standards if that’s the direction they wanted to go.
Note: Currently there are no specific D3 standards as there are for D2. There are general standards that all pro teams playing under the USSF umbrella must meet, but nothing specific to D3. IMS has been pressing US Soccer for a completion date of those D3 standards the federation said they were looking into last summer. After numerous inquiries about those dates US Soccer says it still does not have a completion date for those standards. Standards that IMS feel are important to ensure the long term stability to the league and its teams.