There are 14 teams meeting this weekend to discuss NPSL Pro: New York Cosmos, Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada, Chattanooga FC, Detroit City, New Orleans Jesters, Milwaukee Torrent, Boston City, Hartford City, FC Arizona, ASC San Diego, Virginia Beach, Miami United, & Asheville City.
NISA is seeking sanctioning as a D3 league with 8 to 10 teams. I don't know who all those teams are, but from what little I've heard, it sounds like it could be an even split between west coast and east coast, and likely 8 teams to start.
Now, lets consider this. NPSL Pro is attempting to start as a new league, with only 2 teams on the west coast. The remaining 12 are east coast/south.
If NPSL Pro and NISA can come together and start one new league, it would launch with 22 teams total. Lets say 6 on the west coast and 16 on the east coast/south. I've heard of a couple of groups looking at this situation waiting to decide which way to go. 2 in the mid west, 1 on the west coast, plus a couple of other NPSL teams.
This means within a couple of years this merged league could have anywhere from 25 to 27 teams based on existing ownership groups. That's a lot of teams!
How much better would this one league be than two? Wouldn't this make the stated desired of both leagues, promotion and relegation, so much easier if you launch this way?
Come on NPSL Pro and NISA. Figure it out. Find a way to work together. Do something great that could change the face of US Soccer forever!
Happy Friday everyone, I've got a surprise interview for you! As you may have seen, the United Premier Soccer League, or UPSL, announced some changes to their playoff format this past week. Prize money has gone from $5,000 per championship winner twice a year to $10,000 per championship winner twice a year. A significant improvement and amount for the amateur scene.
Ahead of this weekends final UPSL Championship under the old playoff format, Yan Skwara took some time to answer a few questions about the new format and some other potential changes for the league in 2019.
UPSL has grown quite a bit since we first talked, leading to a serious revamp of the UPSL's playoff format. Can you walk us through what prompted those changes to increase prize money and get rid of a more 'March Madness' style championship structure hosted in one place?
The UPSL has obviously grown so we have to adjust to our growth and do whats best in the interest of our league and team members. As far as the announcement of the revamped playoff format goes its no different that other leagues who have been in our shoes and grown out of their shoe size. We need to now go to a regional / national - one game final format for a handful of reasons but high on the list is the economics. Also, having a one game final really gives the UPSL and its sponsors the opportunity to showcase a final and build a event that is powerful and meaningful with sizable crowds. With that being said we are excited about our finals this weekend in Colorado as it will be the last "August Madness" style playoff format but we will have eight great teams from all across the country flying in and squaring off to see who will be crowned 2018 UPSL Championship.
On the prize money side, we have always been a leader in the market as far as being one of the few National leagues that offers a cash prize to the winner at the end of the playing season. Because we have grown, we are now blessed to be able to invest back into our league for our members. Outside of players wanting to complete for a championship cup, owners need to be rewarded for their efforts and annual investment and a cash prize of $10,000 twice a year gives clubs the opportunity to put some cash in the bank and continue to invest in their players and the club itself.
Do you feel these changes are going to make for a more competitive and intimidating playoff atmosphere?
I think the stakes will go up each time we are able to increase our UPSL Championship cash prize and we certainly are not stopping here at $10,000 as our goal is to keep working with our sponsors so we can coninue to increase the cash prize in the future because we know it will make a difference in not only the level of competition but it the size of our crowds and spur sponsorship.
As the league grows into new places, like the Dakotas and Alaska, do you see this new playoff model as more efficient and cost effective?
Having four conferences and keeping playoffs regional will clearly benefit the league and its members from a cost standpoint keeping cash in the bank and not going out on travel.
The NPSL does offer some help to teams to cover travel costs. Is that something the UPSL would consider doing if needed?
We did announce on top of the $10,000 cash prize each season, the UPSL will provide an initial $5000 travel per dium to cover travel costs for the visiting finalist. As far as a travel per dium for the regional's, we are looking at that and will see what we can come up with but for now we are set with a $10,000 championship prize twice each season (two seasons in a 12 month period) and a $5000 travel per dium twice per year so total budget set aside for Finals is $30,000 for 2019 between the cash prize and travel per dium.
Any plans to have a Championship Game naming rights sponsor to increase the prize money on offer?
We are meeting with title sponsors as we speak and look to have some good news in the near term. For me this is the fun part and an exciting opportunity to continue to grow the league and set a whole new standard for the game in America.
Anything else exciting that the UPSL is working on for 2019 that you can share to the people reading this so they have something to look forward to? A league naming rights sponsor, perhaps, or a Hawaii conference?
We have several major announcements coming forward that gear around additional new league title sponsorship's not to mention some very exciting new teams in markets that are new to the UPSL and some great management team additions.
Indie Wrestling. Indie Soccer. What in the world do these two things have in common, and how can they learn from each other? I'm glad you asked, because there is a lot more to be learned than you'd think!
In the world of professional wrestling, and entertainment in particular, most people are familiar with World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, formerly known as WWF. They are the big dog, the big cheese, the monopoly of professional wrestling in the United States. Yet in spite of everything, the indie scene of professional wrestling continues to thrive against the odds.
Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, the National Wrestling Alliance, and a host of local and regional promotions continue to operate in front of good crowds and even appear on television. But for a long time, there was very little co-operation, other than a talent sharing deal between Ring of Honor (ROH) and New Japan Pro Wrestling. (NJPW) But as WWE continues to make more and more money and sign more and more talent, these independent promotions were faced with the stark reality that if they wanted to grow their market share, something had to change. Enter the largest non WWE wrestling show in North America in decades:
The brain child of popular wrestling tag team The Young Bucks and the wrestler formerly known as Cody Rhodes, All In was an attempt to create a show that could actually sell out a 10,000 seat arena. But how on earth do you secure the type of talent needed to put together a show strong enough to sell that many tickets? By working together for the common good.
NJPW and ROH already have a working relationship, but started finding new ways to work together with other promotions, like Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling and the NWA. All In provided these promotions with a vision for how to challenge the status quo and begin to chip away at the monopoly that is the WWE. Going it alone hadn't worked. In fact, it almost wrecked several promotions, like the NWA, Impact, and Lucha Underground. But by working together, they realized they could do something so monumental that it could change the face of wrestling in North America forever.
You might still be asking yourself, what does this have to do with indie/non league/amateur soccer and MLS/USL? Okay, lets break it down.
MLS, alongside it's arrangement with the USL, is able to operate as a monopoly in the United States, just like WWE does in professional wrestling. Indie soccer has little room to maneuver, and as the announcements of new teams in the USL D3 in Greenville, SC and Chattanooga, TN, where there are thriving indie teams shows, the amateur scene is being squeezed ever tighter.
There's a big lesson to be learned here. In the world of wrestling, promotions from Japan, Canada, Mexico, the UK and the US have enough common ground to begin laying aside differences and egos to start pursuing a common goal. They aren't merging or buying each other out, but are simply working together to the best of their ability. And their competition is a company with a legitimate global following and foothold, not just a company with a foothold in one country.
This is what indie soccer can learn from wrestling. Common ground is powerful if you're willing to find it, talk to the other party, and begin moving towards a common goal that benefits everyone.
Why do UPSL and NPSL need to merge? Why not find a way for the UPSL to promote it's teams where applicable to the NPSL, and the NPSL relegates to UPSL? Could regional leagues do the same with the UPSL?
There is common ground a plenty for indie soccer right now if leagues are willing to start moving towards it. But the longer they wait, the more that common ground becomes smaller and smaller and self preservation grows stronger and stronger. Now is the time for indie soccer to learn from indie wrestling and start working together. There's still room in the market, there's still time to make something happen that changes the face and perception of indie soccer in the US for years to come.
But if they wait to much longer, it may wind up being too late.
As I emerge from almost finishing my second cup of coffee and my clouded, hangover feeling brain sharpens after another night of choppy sleep due to baby refusing to understand how glorious sleep is, I've decided to write an article, my first in a long time. And yes, the lack of sleep is worth it when you have a baby. 100% worth it.
I read an article this morning that inspired me on E Pluribus Loonum, Should the NPSL North Expand? It was an interesting article, mentioning some of the reasons the division should consider adding a couple more teams to continue to grow it's presence and strength and coverage of the state.
However, having talked to several NPSL teams in similar situations, (strong conference, good presence, more potential markets) I can tell you, resistance to expanding is real.
Why would they resist that? you might ask. More teams means more games which is good for everyone, right?
Not always. Especially not when your season is only 10 weeks long.
Consider the aforementioned NPSL North. Currently they have 8 teams. That's 14 games over 10 weeks. Not great, not terrible, but anything more is really pushing it when it comes to player health and having room for reschedules if needed.
This is one of the key issues with the NPSL. A short season relying on college players limits your growth potential unless there is a strategic plan in place.
I believe I wrote about it once again but I cannot find the article, and it might have been a post on BigSoccer, actually, NPSL could have, and really should have, implemented promotion and relegation years ago. With the right plan in place, it could have been a reality, and their might not have been a need for UPSL to grow beyond southern California.
Here's how simple the plan could have been.
Every conference has a cap on it's number of teams. Only 6 teams per conference, so everyone is playing 10 league games across a 10 week season. Anyone else who wants in after that forms a second division that will also be capped at between 6 to 8 teams based on geography and population centers in the region to ensure limited travel.
Boom. There you have it. Of course, NPSL would also need to get rid of it's ridiculous and completely unwarranted $17,000+ expansion fee, but this really could have worked and you'd have something very special going on. In fact, if they wanted to the NPSL could still do this and even break up some of it's bigger existing conferences to get it going. In the North Atlantic, you'd already have a 5 team second division ready to go.
And of course, if this had been the plan from the start, we wouldn't have this weird world where we're just hoping that NPSL and UPSL merge to help the amateur game in the US survive.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.