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.