There is No Guarantee that Promotion and Relegation would work and it could proof disaster for American Soccer

Last month Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva offered 4 billion dollars for Major League Soccer’s media rights on one condition, that the league institute a system of promotion and relegation. Now he along with the Kingston Stockade FC of the National Premier Soccer League  a 4th Division team, have filed a claim with the Court of Arbitration to mandate the United States Soccer Federation to adopt promotion and relegation in the United States on August 3, 2017. In a letter Kingston Stockade FC owner Dennis Crowley said in a release statement, “When it comes to soccer success, America lags behind the rest of the world. One reason is because our system is not an open system and is actually blocked from becoming an open system. “By embracing pro/rel and using this tried-and-true system, we would have a greater ability to unlock additional soccer markets, reward investment in those markets, and create new talent pools within the United States.” Really? Have soccer zealots learned the past history of American Pro Soccer Leagues that folded in the past?  Do we really think that soccer in America is now suddenly going to be bigger than the big four in American Sports League; NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League if you have Promotion and Relegation?  While we are currently witnessing a soccer renaissance in America with the growth professional soccer from Major League Soccer, United Soccer League and North American Soccer League we are witnessing a very vehement but very extreme movement of passionate soccer fans that want the world’s game in America to emulate like European Soccer and yet nobody ever bother to read history of past American Pro Soccer Leagues that have come and folded.

In the 1920’s an internal War broke out between the American Soccer League and their affiliated Clubs over who was head of organize of American soccer. American Soccer League and United States Football Association collided over smaller teams participating in the National Challenge Cup. It also led to a culture clash by mainstream American who saw soccer as being too far left leaning at a time where World World I erupted in Europe and countless court battles and lawsuits of smaller soccer clubs and League owners led to the demise of American Soccer League.  In 1967 the FIFA-backed United Soccer Association and National Professional Soccer League played one season before merging in 1968 to form the North American Soccer League (NASL) but the league folded in at the end 1984 after teams spent millions on aging stars to try to match the success of the Cosmos while losing significant amounts of money in doing so. The Major Indoor Soccer League had a brief popular run in it started in 1978 only to fold in 1992.  Major League Soccer remain to this day as the most successful Professional Soccer league in North America. The league has expanded to 22 teams and will add four more teams in the next coming years. Major League Soccer have exceeded that number of attendance of National Hockey League and the National Basketball  Association, in secured National TV and the league is now profitable, yet very hard Core soccer fans are convince that Promotion and Relegation will help raise the profile of their beloved sport. Sorry to say but this is very delusional and so self defeating. While soccer in America is gaining a great deal of interest it is not up their with the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. It is also questionable that is equaled to National Hockey League.  As I recently wrote  ” That America is not Ready for Promotion and Relegation,” one of the reason is that there isn’t a stable 2nd Division Soccer League with regards of the 2nd addition of the North American Soccer League that currently have 8 teams but have lost teams over the last 2 years.  There is absolutely no guarantee that Promotion and Relegation would work in America and it could proof disaster after the building up the World’s Game. You can’t use European Soccer Leagues as an example which isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison for a list of reasons for many of you Promotion and Relegation Believers:

  1.  Your local team is not in the top division and have slim chances of ever being in Division 1 soccer.
  2.  You are not unwilling to admit how to implement the system of Pro/Rel “how it’s done everywhere else in Europe or in South America.
  3.  The belief that pro/rel is a magic solution that will see their small market explode with billionaire money; spending millions of dollars on transfer fees and finding the next Lionel Messia, Neymar or Christian Pulisic to have on your team and fans suddenly coming from all over to support them; instant profitability and sustainability which is fairy tale.
  4. And lastly trying to maintain their fan base which could quickly give up on the club while they struggle to exist after losing tons of money after getting relegated to a lower division.

Here’s a question to Promotion and Relegation supporters if promotion is guarantee with  good attendance, why does division 2 attendance see major decline in soccer-mad countries the world over? Example, Germany, Italy, France, England Spain and Scotland. Another problem is 2nd Division teams and other Minor League Soccer and Semi-Pro League teams don’t even meet the attendance number in lower division in European Soccer and in some cases don’t meet it in South American Soccer Leagues. And Finally every team that is trying to position themselves for promotion spends big to and a lot of those teams start to flounder and can’t maintain their status, case in point Chinese Super League in which 13 Soccer Clubs last month faced expulsion over unpaid debts. Now I’m fine with many supporters of Pro/Reg and wanting to advance American Soccer to another level but if you’re not facing reality, then you’re just wishing upon the demise of American Professional Soccer and know what existed in the past 100 years of Professional Soccer in America, years of a “free market” league failing and flailing time and again.

 

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America Soccer is NOT yet ready for Promotion and Relegation

Well leave it to a wealthy business owner floating around one of the most heated a most polarizing idea in American Soccer.  On Monday July 24, Riccardo Silva who owns International media company MP & Silva and owns Miami FC of the NASL offered 4 billion dollars for Major League Soccer’s media rights on one condition, that the league institute a system of promotion and relegation.  Groups of Soccer head cult in America are pushing and are advocating that Major League Soccer adapt Promotion and Relegation in hope the league could compete with some of the top soccer leagues in like the English Premier League, La Liga, Seria A, The German Bundesliga and the French Ligue 1, that currently have Promotion and Relegation and for those who want to attack me for having my own head on the ground like an ostrich with my tail sticking high in the sky, let me say I like the concept of Promotion and Relegation to the point that I wish we had it the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League. I wouldn’t mind seeing my once beloved Rams that are now back in Los Angeles after that backstabber Stan Kroenke, moved the team out of St.Louis, get relegated and played some team like the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.  There are enough lousy teams that currently play in the big major four North American Sports League that deserve to be Relegated and should work there way up to Promotion.  But to all of you soccer fans who are so fixated  want to be like English Football PLEASE stop, we are NOT yet ready for Promotion and Relegation and for good reason. Major League Soccer’s currently as an eight year agreement with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision Deportes that extends to 2022 season.  Plus Silva under his control wanted to broker rights for foreign and domestic broadcasters, that would have taken away Major League Soccer’s  right to choose its domestic outlets, not a very good idea.

But here’s other reason why America Soccer is not ready for Promotion and Relegation, since the North American Soccer League was reborn in 2010 the league has lost 9 different soccer clubs either through poor ownership or other clubs moving up to Major League Soccer or to the rival United Soccer League. In fact the NASL spent several years fighting with Major League Soccer in hopes that the United States Soccer Federation were to give Division One status only to find themselves near extinction at the end of 2016 when Rayo OKC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers folded while the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Ottawa Fury switched to the United Soccer League. The NASL was given another resurrection for the 2017 after the United States Soccer Federation let the league maintain its 2nd Division status along with rival United Soccer League. Throughout the History of American Professional Soccer the number question, is the League stable financially. Right now only Major League Soccer as remained stable throughout the history of American Professional Soccer while Leagues like the old NASL and the Major Indoor Soccer League folded.

Currently Only eight teams are playing this season in the New North American Soccer League while the United Soccer League has Thirty teams playing and while both teams plans to expansion in the next couple of years the instability of a true 2nd Division Soccer League could rear it’s ugly head as both League fight to expand in cities other markets. And by the way another war is brewing as the United Soccer League will launch a 3rd Division to start playing in 2019 while another renegade 3rd Division Soccer League called the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) started by Peter Wilt, will play in 2018. FUN TIMES ISN’T. In order to have Promotion and Relegation the U.S. Soccer Pyramid need to have a stable 2nd and 3rd Division Soccer which you don’t have at this point. Let me say that I praise Mr.Silva for wanting to see American Soccer grow and floating the idea of having Promotion and Relegation but Major League Soccer is still in it’s infant stage and you don’t feed a baby red meat right away. A better idea, if he’s willing to offer $4 Billion dollars to Major League Soccer why not use that money for better use in the lower division in soccer? Mr. Silva should use that money and help merge the NASL with USL along with NISA and have Promotion and Relegation through lower division that will grow American Soccer and could one day force Major League Soccer hand into adopting Promotion and Relegation. In the meantime Soccer fans be patient.

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Rethinking St.Louis Major League Soccer Effort

Three months has passed since Proposition 2 failed in St.Louis which would have allocated $60 million towards a new stadium and for potential Major League Soccer expansion. It’s true that this is another black eye for the region that is coming off of losing the Rams to Los Angeles. St.Louis had been the hotbed for a an expansion team from the MLS in which the area soccer stars like Taylor Twellman, Will Bruin, Steve Ralson, Darryl Doran, Chris Klein and Tim Ream. But looking back upon further review, the effort in getting a Major League Soccer team may have been rushed and should have waited because of a one of the most complex move that has never been solved throughout the region history, and that is county and metro area merger. St.Louis have been hit hard over the last 40 years with the decreasing population throughout the region including losses of manufacturing jobs and crime in the metropolitan area. It was also part of the reason why St.Louis lost their first NFL team the Cardinals in 1987 because city and county leaders couldn’t come to an agreement on the regional merger and a stadium proposal that was suppose to be built in Maryland Heights MO., with the support of St.Louis Metro leaders.

 

On the same day that Prop 2 failed, St.Louis elected its first female mayor in Lynda Krewson in which he supports a city/county merger. On June 12, County executive County Executive Steve Stenger put together a plan and pledged to continue the courtship aimed at combining government through a group that is pushing plan for a county/merger called A Better Together St.Louis.  The group’s goal is to come up with a plan to merge city and county into one large populated city that been divided since 1876 when the city broke away from the county and to increase the regional population. However there are elected county officials and country citizens that are not enthuse with the city/county merger. Many of the county’s leaders don’t want the burden in take up the city’s budget problem other factors that is preventing is the fear of crime spreading to various county’s. Whether it’s race or class these factors has caused a lot of distrust and greater polarization among the citizens for decades.

One reason the Prop 2 fail was the cost of the stadium fee in which SCSTL a propose MLS expansion team ownership, couldn’t cover the remaining $ 60 million dollars on the stadium and voters in the Metro area weren’t reluctant to pay for it and it’s questionable that had the vote included St.Louis County that they too would have voted yes on Prop 2.  the remaining MLS expansion cities such as Nashville, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Tampa Bay and Raleigh N.C. they are relying on ownership who are paying for the cost of their own stadiums and stronger local leadership that sees the sport growing among one of the top sports league in the U.S. St. Louis is a soccer town which strong soccer youth programs and league throughout the region and it’s also home to pro soccer teams Saint Louis FC that currently plays in the United Soccer League 2nd Division and the St.Louis Ambush of the Major Arena Soccer League and they’re both well supported but the reality is that St.Louis was not ready for  Major League Soccer team because of disunity between City and County leaders and there was no desire to citizens to pay for the stadium. The dreams in getting Major League Soccer team is not dead yet but in order to keep the dream alive the city/county must merge and citizens who supports the merger must demand that it happen.

 

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Two former NFL cities,St.Louis and San Diego could both have a Major League Soccer team.

Well San Diego sports fans, would you like to share your grief with your fellow St.Louisans brothers and sister in losing an NFL team? I know it’s painful when your team played for over 50 years and enjoyed some of the great Chargers players that feature Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Wes Chandler and Charlie Joyner. St. Louis shares your grieve in losing our football teams to two greedy owners who want to up their franchises in Los Angeles. One thing we also share in common is both cities have strong soccer history. San Diego doesn’t have a very deep history of soccer like St.Louis, but pro soccer in San Diego has in the past, been very successful with the success of the San Diego Sockers, who won 10 Major Indoor Soccer League titles, which were lead by great players like Victor Nogueira, Juli Veee, Brian Quinn and the legendary Steve Zungul.

An Investment Group in San Diego are planning  to redevelop the sight where Qualcomm Stadium by building a new multi-purpose stadium. Unlike St.Louis Major League Soccer plan, the San Diego Groups plans will be privately finance that will seat 40,000 and shared with San Diego State University Football team. The price of the privately finance state in San Diego will be $200 million dollars which will not be voted by the San Diego citizens while the people in St.Louis will get to vote on the stadium proposal that was past this week by the Board of Alderman’s who approved a $60 million dollar funding which should be on the ballot April 4. Both Owner groups Soccer Club Saint Louis and the San Diego ownership group are expected to file an application to the League January 31 along with 11 other cities vying to become one of the maximum 28 teams in Major League Soccer. Just think, should both of these cities are awarded a Major League Soccer they maybe come prime examples of cities bouncing back after losing their NFL franchises. Yes San Diego, losing and NFL team really sucks but just think, 10-15 year the NFL will lose their popularity do to the greedy money hungry billionaire owners who only care about their pocket books instead of their fan base.  So welcome to the club San Diego in bringing in a new sport franchise to root for and bring in some real football (futbol).

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Unity and Trust will determine St.Louis’s efforts in getting a Major League Soccer team.

Let’s just say this has not been a great year in Sports for St.Louis and for many reasons, the Blues fell short in making it to the Stanley Cup Finals by losing in 6 games to the San Jose Sharks. The Baseball Cardinals fell short in making it in to the Major League Baseball playoffs and, watched their arch rival Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908. But the biggest blow to the Gateway City was the lose of another NFL team for the second time in less than 30 years, when Rams owner Stan Kroenke decided to move the team back to Los Angeles.  While the NFL may forever be lost, Major League Soccer executives quickly pounce on the opportunity in landing an expansion team which could add value to a city which traces it’s soccer roots to the late 19th Century.  So far the League have seen positive reviews coming from local city leaders and local sports fans with the successful support of both the United Soccer League team Saint Louis FC and the Major Arena Soccer League team the St.Louis Ambush.

While there is huge enthusiasm in landing a Major League Soccer franchise, there are  major stumbling blocks that could make things difficult in landing a team. On November 17, Soccer Club St.Louis group which involves Jim Kavanaugh, Bill DeWitt, Tom Stillman and Dave Peacock submitted plans to build a Soccer Specific Stadium next to the historic Union Station in downtown are facing opposition from some Alderman Leaders who oppose the plan in using public funding for the stadium. Then there’s another group, Foundry St.Louis lead by Dan Cordes, another group hoping to own an MLS franchise has offer to pay $80 million dollars without using public money to build the stadium. In late October, Dan Cordes presented is stadium plan near Saint Louis University, but has yet to present a major billionaire businessman that would help finance the group.

All of these twist and turns over stadium finance and ownership is a haunting remind of what happen to this city two decades ago in their bid in getting an NFL expansion team which the city loss the bid because of a last minute rival ownership, headed by Stan Kroenke, wanted full control of the team.  Last year Dave Peacock, who is part of Soccer Club St.Louis, tried desperately in keeping the Rams with a $1 billion dollar stadium plan at the Riverfront in downtown St.Louis was rejected by NFL executives and allow the team now owned by Stan Kroenke to move the team back to Los Angeles.earlier this year. Major League Soccer President and Deputy Commissioner, Mark Abbott has already picked Soccer Club St.Louis group to be the ownership of the franchise and so far they have already met with Mayor Francis Slay. Major League Soccer is willing to help the city in landing a team but they must convince a community who have been burned over the last year with the lost of an NFL team and  have become weary in using tax payers money in building another sport stadium. At this time we don’t know what Foundry Group President Dan Cordes has at this point but whatever he has to offer it would not be a bad idea in reaching out to him if he is fulling committed in bring a Major League Soccer team  because at the end Unity and Trust with city leaders, citizens and propose soccer owners will determine St.Louis effort in getting a Major League Soccer.

 

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Saint Louis FC should have a soccer match at Busch Stadium

Saint Louis FC is currently having solid season on and off the field with the team contending the Western Conference standing.  Since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles the team have received local exposure throughout the St.Louis area and remains a candidate in landing a Major League Soccer expansion team for sometime now since the League started in 1996. Throughout much of the season fans have come out to near full capacity at World Wide Technology Field which up to 6,000. However to better the cities chances in get a Major League Soccer team Saint Louis FC should play at Busch Stadium at a minimum of two games. Now, having a soccer match at a baseball stadium is not the ideal place to play but Busch stadium has staged International Friendly Matches, most recently in Nov. 2015 when the U.S. Men’s National Team played and beat St.Vincent and Grenadines 6-1 in which 37,000 fans attended the match.  Another reason for hosting a match at Busch stadium is, FC Cincinnati who are in their first season in the United Soccer League, are currently having a historic league attendance record averaging 17,000 soccer fans in Cincinnati.

 

FC Cincinnati currently plays at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati that seats up to 40,000 and on July 16, FC Cincinnati will play Crystal Palace from the English Premier League, which the game is expected to have over 20,000. Saint Louis FC could benefit a great deal of exposure by playing an International Friendly Match at Busch stadium if they played a match against an English Premier League team like Sutherland, Leicester City or Swansea City because the League have enjoyed some of the best t.v. ratings since switching from Fox Sports Net to NBC Sports Network 3 years ago. The MLS is planning to expand to 28 teams and while St.Louis remains a safe bet to be one of the cities to land a team it won’t be a guarantee if Cincinnati continues to average 17,000 in which Commissioner Don Garber will take note.

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Don Garber wants a Major League Soccer team in St.Louis Badly

Sports fans in St.Louis received some very encouraging news when the story broke out on Thursday night that Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, revealed to St.Louis Post Dispatch writer David Hunn, that the League is currently searching a soccer specific stadium in downtown and gather potential owners for a future expansion team. There’s no doubt that the ball is rolling rather fast for a city that recently had their hearts ripped out of their chest, when the NFL allowed the Rams to move to Los Angeles but some see the MLS move as a desperate attempt from the aftershock and lets face it, since the league started in 1996 St.Louis has failed in 3 attempts in getting a Major League Soccer franchise so right now there is reason to suspect. I believe the opposite and I believe it will happen.

Don Garber wants a Major League Soccer team in St.Louis badly and even though he said that the team could start playing in 2020, who’s to say that the team could play in 2018 and replace Miami as the 24th team in Major League Soccer? Miami Principal owner David Beckham can’t find and stadium sight for his yet to be named team. And sorry Sacramento and San Antonio; two cities who are supposedly ahead of St.Louis that already have an ownership, investors and stadium sight, but soccer history is on the side of St.Louis.

Professional soccer started locally in 1891 which many soccer clubs were started by local Churches and parishes. In 1950 five of the eleven players on the from the historic Italian town, ” The Hill” neighborhood in St. Louis, lead The U.S. Men’s World Cup team to an upset victory against England 1-0, 29 Native 29 St. Louisans have been inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and you have two well supported local soccer teams, the St.Louis Ambush of the Major Arena Soccer League and Saint Louis FC of the United Soccer League.

Don Garber is going through greater length to prove to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who didn’t make an effort in keeping the Rams St.Louis, that the city is a solidly good sports town that fans can go out support and appreciate. There will be some roadblocks from local leaders over stadium cost once again though it won’t be as big of a battle because the stadium cost will be a lot lesser than the proposed 1.1 billion dollars NFL stadium. And should he identify an owner with very deep pockets, it would be worth the city’s investment in making St.Louis a true soccer capital than trying lure another NFL team.

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