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USSF denies Commisso’s $500 million NASL proposal

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The drawn-out feud between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the North American Soccer League (NASL) provided another blow to the latter on Friday, severely raising concerns about NASL’s future.

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USSF has denied New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso’s $500 million proposal to infuse the money into NASL, as the league aimed to seek independent sanctioning.

Of the $500 million, Commisso was willing to pay upwards of half the sum ($250 million).

Commisso and NASL were seeking a 10-year runway to provide the league with enough time to achieve compliance under USSF’s Professional League Standards (PLS).

As it stands, NASL has four teams still considered to be members of the league, including Commisso’s Cosmos, Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada and expansion side California United FC.

NASL was forced to cancel its 2018 season after originally planning to move towards an international calendar and begin play in August.

“Hopeful” Commisso extends deadline for $500m NASL restoration

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New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso tells ProSoccerTalk that he has extended his deadline in regards to his $500 million investment offer to fund a resurgent North American Soccer League.

Why? Well, for one, Commisso feels that progress is being made, so much so that he’s willing to characterize his outlook as “hopeful.”

“There’s been a lot of back-and-forth, they basically said they can’t get everything done by the 31st and they need more time and that’s the reason why we changed the deadline,” Commisso said.

U.S. Soccer told the NASL it could not meet prior to the June 13 vote regarding 2026 World Cup hosting. In extending his deadline to May 31, Commisso is asking for a few commitments from U.S. Soccer.

Commisso wants U.S. Soccer to commit to a board meeting with a “yes or no” vote no later than June 29, and wants U.S. Soccer to provide a list of prerequisite actions needed to have such a decision on his proposal at said meeting. And he wants a commitment from U.S. Soccer to stick to the timeline.

So what’s the impetus for Commisso’s hopeful nature?

“They’ve showed some good faith and I’m willing to move if they’re willing to do X, Y, and Z. It’s a moving thing and I’m being flexible to their asks and to see at what point and time they’re going to come up with something else.”

Commisso said his deadlines have not been about putting pressure on USSF, rather the many things he’d have to do to get the NASL back on the field by March 2019 for a season with a minimum of 10 teams, which would be sanctioned as D-2.

Additionally, the 10-year runway would include D-1 sanctioning in 2020 with a minimum of 14 teams, a minimum of 10,000-seat stadia, a minimum of three time zones represented, as well as a plan to introduce promotion and relegation in said top flight.

He’d also need multi-team ownership to start, but said that would be solved by independent ownership at the end of the 10-year runway, if not sooner, with all teams meeting the current Professional League Standards for D-1.

“I’m asking for the 10 years, let’s be clear,” Commisso said. “If you read our original letters, we’ve always asked for the ability of multi-ownership. We put out a chart that goes back all the way to 1996 that shows the transition from 1996 to 2011, that during those periods there were certain owners with multi-teams. In 2003, three guys owned the entire league, so that’s what I’m asking for.”

Commisso said that, like the MLS build-up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there would be safeguards in place to maintain sporting integrity, and that his full 2019 roster of clubs would be finalized by Sept. 20, with the NASL’s league ops fully restored by New Year’s Eve. There’s also an ask of commitment from USSF to address governance issues by February 2019.

The $250 million he’s investing is joined by $50 million each from Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva and Jacksonville Armada owner Robert Palmer, plus help from “leading Wall Street banks.”

The NASL has already identified 12 potential clubs, 11 of which are in metropolitan areas with populations above one million. The investment would go to building modular soccer-specific stadia in some markets, and his league would put an emphasis on youth development and domestic players.

“I’m hopeful that the leadership of U.S. Soccer sees in the largest investment ever proposed by a single individual for the benefit of American soccer getting this through as quickly as possible.”

Commisso, USSF at impasse over $500m meeting

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New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso tells ProSoccerTalk that he pulled out of a Wednesday meeting with U.S. Soccer regarding his nine-figure offer to fund an American soccer league due to the federation’s unwillingness to send what the NASL deemed the proper decision-makers.

Commisso and several North American Soccer League owners were set to meet with U.S. Soccer in Chicago, but changed their plans when the federation’s delegation was limited to CEO Dan Flynn and legal counsel.

He says the NASL has since proposed a meeting under New York State not-for-profit law which would have the league meet with USSF board members who do not have direct ties to MLS, USL, or SUM.

The Cosmos owner promised $250 million of his own money as well as fundraising of an additional $250 million from other investors.

A spokesman for U.S. Soccer tells ProSoccerTalk that it has responded to Commisso’s latest letter regarding the meeting, and remains open to meeting in the future, noting that it initially proposed the dates and location for a meeting.

And Commisso says the federation’s latest communication says a meeting cannot happen with any board members, as they may be tainted by being subjects of NASL lawsuits. Commisso points out that he’s suing Flynn and Cordeiro as well.

Commisso — who has rallied against conflicts of interest between the USSF, Major League Soccer, and Soccer United Marketing — says he wanted to work out a deal with the federation and its board members, but his conditions were not met and the USSF’s conditions were a non-starter.

On the NASL side, Commisso did not wish to share what he deems “proprietary information” with board members, noting that several members of the USSF’s board of directors were his competitors due to ties with MLS and the USL. In the NASL’s view, meetings like this have led to almost instant competitive reactions from direct competitors to torpedo their plans and trigger competitive imbalance from what Commisso calls “monopoly galore.”

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U.S. Soccer says it’s protecting his information. He’s not so sure.

“The latest from my end,” Commisso said. “We’re gonna make it public one of these days. It’s not true that they are protecting my information. According to my email, they say they have to bring it up to the board. Garber may not vote on it, but they are gonna talk about it. We asked for a special committee of non-conflicted board members, and they won’t give it.”

He essentially views the federation’s request to get his plan for the league and investment as a fact-finding mission. With Carlos Cordeiro unavailable due to campaigning for the hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup, the two sides would not be able to leave the meeting with a plan that would not require further, higher approval. His priority is the bid, a critical moment for his new administration.

The federation wants a plan before a meeting. The league doesn’t believe the plan won’t be shared with its competitors, but requires USSF sanctioning for one because Commisso wants to continue to recruit players of national team caliber and playing in a non-FIFA recognized “Division Zero” league would prohibit that.

And time is on the USSF’s side, not the NASL. While Commisso and other owners have the money to restart their teams at any time, other markets necessary to the league’s reclamation need time.

Commisso says U.S. Soccer told him that a meeting was not necessary for the NASL to apply for division sanctioning before an August deadline for any league.

Commisso’s main requests were a 10-year “runway” to meeting Professional League Standards, and the ability to own multiple teams. He’s also a proponent of promotion and relegation, rules against leagues “poaching” teams, and several measures of transparency and open bidding.

He admits he was stung that after investing millions of dollars to keep the NASL alive, the USSF removed its second division status “five and a half months after my first game,” while the rival USL got more time to fulfill Professional League Standards.

He also rejects the close relationship between MLS and the USL.

“It’s monopoly galore,” he said. “The USL is largely farm teams for MLS. B Teams.”

So what happens if U.S. Soccer doesn’t meet the conditions for a meeting?

“I can’t disclose that,” Commisso said. “But there’s a second part. The law suits continue, and no one gets me to shut my mouth. I will do all I can to represent all the shareholders in United States Soccer.”

NASL reaching out to CONCACAF nations for support with USSF

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Earlier this week, New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso made waves when he offered to invest $250 million of his money and to raise another $250 million in outside investment in order to fund a new or revived American soccer league, provided the United States Soccer Federation agrees to significant changes in several arenas, including how it operates with Major League Soccer, Soccer United Marketing, and promotion and relegation.

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The Cosmos are the flagship club of the North American Soccer League, who remains on the offensive as it seeks to return to the playing field by 2019. ProSoccerTalk has obtained a letter from the NASL to a Caribbean Football Association, asking the CONCACAF nation to contact U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and encourage him to meet with the North American Soccer League and discuss Commisso’s offer.

A source confirmed to PST that similar letters were sent to all of the CONCACAF member nations by NASL commissioner Rishi Sehgal, detailing the accomplishments of their players in the NASL and contributions to the growth of the national team program. CC’d on the letters are CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF secretary general Philippe Moggio, and Commisso.

CONCACAF declined to comment on the story.

The second-tier outfit is locked in legal proceedings with the United States Soccer Federation and MLS over the NASL’s loss of Division 2 sanctioning. It would be interesting to see how U.S. Soccer playing ball with Commisso’s 10-year, $500 million plan would affect the businessman and his league’s lawsuits.

Wild day in American soccer: Crew relocation, NASL LOIs, USL reserves

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The top three soccer leagues in the United States of America are dealing with varying bits of turmoil this Tuesday in October.

It began late Monday with reports that Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt aims to take the MLS founding member to Texas, seemingly only paying lip service to the idea of investment keeping the team in Ohio.

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Some have said Precourt’s goals have always been to find a way out of Ohio, and the Crew owner was asked what has changed in the four years he’s owned the club (From ColumbusCrewSC.com):

Q:When we read your story about your purchase of the team, this was back in 2013, part of that was that it was very important to the Hunt family that the Crew remained in Columbus and you said at the time that you were committed to that. So what’s changed?

AP: I was committed to that and I believe that I demonstrated my commitment through significant investment in infrastructure, in personnel, in the quality of our product on the field. What has changed? Our League has grown leaps and bounds, it’s been unprecedented the improvement we’ve seen year over year and new markets that have come in the League have shown dramatic attendance. Let’s look at Atlanta with over 70,000 fans over their last few games, with Orlando building a new facility and averaging over 30,000 fans a game, with New York City FC. The list goes on and on. Our peers get stronger and stronger, year in and year out and I have to get back to our ambition as a club. This is key: our ambition as a club is to be a standard bearer in Major League Soccer, to be respected on and off the field in terms of our soccer operations and our business operations and to operate world-class, soccer-specific infrastructure. We’re going through growing pains now. It’s time for us to explore building a world-class, soccer-specific stadium so that we can be celebrated and successful and sustainable.

So, yes, barring a king’s ransom — word use intended — from the Ohio business community, it’s not being cynical to read Precourt’s intention to leave Ohio as very strong. The idea is very sad for the league, and makes every pro/rel honk’s argument against the closed model.

Then there’s the NASL, where it’s almost head-spinning to keep abreast of the future of the league. New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso has taken the wheel in an attempt to not only see the NASL rise, but remove Sunil Gulati from power at the United States Soccer Federation in the hopes of a complete overhaul. In what should not be read as a footnote, the NASL is currently suing the USSF.

There are reports that the league could have as many as 17 teams next season in a bid to regain sanctioning from the Unites States Soccer Federation, including a series of teams from the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League.

According to SocTakes.com, the NASL has letters of intent from NPSL clubs in Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Arizona, New Orleans, and Virginia Beach. Additionally, there’s interest in Hartford and it may not be the NPSL club.

Then came this Tweet:

Now here’s a league, the USL, whose only issues have been perception-related. Growing well and instituting a D-3 companion, the biggest concern has been the mentioned MLS Reserve sides creating a minor league feel for the league.

All of this is manageable, and you could argue that the disappearance or at least rebranding of most of these reserve sides would be a boon for the league.

Taken in a vacuum, any of these stories has the potential to carry a day’s news. Together, and in the wake of the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, they give Tuesday one of those Soccer-USApocalyptic feelings.