By Michael Lewis
More than a dozen representatives from National Premier Soccer League clubs are scheduled to gather in New York City for meetings later this week that could determine whether those amateur teams go professional in 2019.
The NPSL, a 98-team league that plays under the umbrella of the U.S. Soccer Adult Association, has been considering adding another tier of teams to play at the pro level. The meetings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
“We’re going to decide whether do we go professional and we’re going to find another name,” NPSL chairman Joe Barone said.
At least 14 clubs are expected to participate in the meetings.
Teams expected to send representatives include Miami FC 2, Cosmos B, Jacksonville Armada FC, Chattanooga FC, Detroit City, New Orleans Jesters, Milwaukee Torrent, Boston City FC, Hartford City FC, FC Arizona (Phoenix), ASC San Diego, Virginia Beach, Miami United and Asheville City SC, according to Barone. Other clubs could decide to attend as well.
That new league could house from 10 to 12 to 16 teams, depending on which owners want to take the plunge into the professional ranks.
“We have a good number of teams prepared to make it happen in 2019,” Barone said.
“There is a group of owners who feel the [USSF] professional standards don’t make sense.”
The NPSL wants to create a new league called NPSL PRO under the adult association. The U.S. Soccer Federation, however, has said that only professionally sanctioned leagues can use the word pro, the sources. That would be any league that is considered Division I, II or III.
“It’s short-sided, saying we’re misleading the fans,” Barone said. “NPSL PRO?. How are we misleading the fans? If U.S. Soccer allows you to sign professional players, I don’t see the rationale.
“I’m not worrying over this. If we have to find another name, we’ll find another name.”
Amateur teams have used professional players for years. Any team can register professional players, according to USSF by-laws. Miami FC 2, which secured the NPSL championship earlier this month, runner-up FC Motown and Cosmos B, among others, used professional players this past season.
Barone noted that a league in the Maryland/Virginia area Club Champions League, has circuits called CCL PRO23 for men and women.
“You’re hurting so many players, good players in so many leagues,” he said.
“My next fear is that they will change the by-laws,” he added.
You might be interested in this story: