Tuesday, November 10, 2009
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues issued the following statement regarding the USL First Division in response to the announcement of an application before the United States Soccer Federation for a new Division II Men’s Outdoor Professional League submitted, in part, by former USL-1 franchises.
United Soccer Leagues, founded in 1986, continues to be the only organization with Division II and III Men’s Outdoor Professional Leagues sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, providing over 20 years of professional league management experience to its member clubs at all levels of the game.
The new ownership of NuRock Soccer Holdings has made a significant investment in United Soccer Leagues through its acquisition of the business and the retaining of strategic business partners such as Nike, Inc. and Premier Partnerships, which is led by the highly-respected duo of Alan Rothenberg and Randy Bernstein.
While USL does not oppose the right of an entity to affiliate with USSF per the governing organization’s bylaws, it does oppose the current application before the Federation on the grounds that there is misrepresentation, interference with USL business operations and substantial debt amongst the membership of the parties applying for certification.
Although USL is currently working with USL-1 member teams on reforming the structure of league management, USL’s ownership structure and franchise system has been, and will continue to be, in compliance with all USSF and FIFA statutes since its membership as a professional league with the USSF began in 1993.
There is no FIFA regulation stipulating that member leagues be owned by their respective clubs, and in many cases around the world, leagues consist of individual clubs that play in league competitions managed by the respective Federation such as the English leagues (excluding the Premiership), Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain) and Mexican Primera Division. While some management systems are similar, the models of ownership structure vary greatly throughout FIFA based on each country’s business regulations as well as respective regional confederation and federation guidelines and principles. While there are universal principles woven throughout FIFA, league ownership models are among concepts such as promotion/relegation and the prohibition of two equal-tiered leagues that are not mandated and not necessarily applicable for every federation, such as is the case in the United States. Every league in every federation has its own nuances that make it unique.
The ownership structure of United Soccer Leagues has played a crucial role in maintaining a stable foundation while advancing the sport over decades of growth through both prosperous and difficult financial times. This structure has allowed USL to support and maintain the operation of member clubs such as Montreal and Vancouver during times when the then ownership of the clubs were unable to continue operating, which would have had detrimental affects on both the competition and on all respective markets across the league. With continued financial difficulties being experienced by clubs all around the world as well franchises and leagues in various United States sports entities, USL believes its model, with upcoming reforms to better serve its teams, is an important aspect to a successful future in the USL First Division.