The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit rejected the NASL’s hopes to rescind the USSF decision. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
The North American Soccer League’s appeal of its motion for a preliminary injunction for Division II designation by the U.S. Soccer Federation Friday was turned down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The USSF had rescinded the league’s status as a Division II league for 2018 last September.
“NASL has not demonstrated a clear likelihood of success on the merits of its antitrust claim against USSF under 15 U.S.C. 1,” the court said in a 26-page ruling. “According we AFFIRM the order of the District Court denying NASL’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and REMAND the matter for further proceedings on the merits of the NASL’s claims.
The NASL was trying to overturn a ruling by Judge Margo K. Brodie in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York in November so it could continue as a Division II league this year. If not, the NASL claimed that it would go out of business.
The three judges who heard and ruled on the appeal Dec. 15 were Denny Chin, Barrington D. Parker and Richard C. Wesley.
The Second Circuit used a “abuse of discretion” threshold to determine the injunction’s denial.
“A district court abuses its discretion when it rests its decision on a clearly erroneous finding of fact or makes an error of law,” the appellate court ruling stated.
The court also ruled that the NASL had sought to alter an almost “decade-long relationship between the parties,” and that it wanted a mandatory and not a prohibitory injunction. The Second Circuit also stated that the District Court used the correct analysis.
As for conflicts of interesting between Soccer United Marketing, the USSF’s marketing partner, and the organization itself, the Second Circuit said that the NASL did not show “a meaningful financial conflict of interest ” from the SUM agreement.
Yet, the Second Circuit noted that the “NASL has a case left to make. But we cannot say at this point that NASL has shown a clear likelihood of it success on the merits under 15 U.S.C. 1.”
The appellate court’s ruling came 70 days after the Dec. 15 hearing in Manhattan.
According to one attorney, the NASL can file for a reconsideration or appeal to the Supreme Court. Both processes will take months.
There was no immediate comment from the league. The Cosmos are part of the NASL.