Saturday evening, I had the opportunity and the privilege to participate in a debate covering Promotion and Relegation on Soccer Round Table. (You can listen to it by clicking Here) It was a good conversation and very civil, and I wanted to take a little bit of time to clarify some of the positions that I discussed during the debate.
Partnerships: I am in support of teams partnering up, to a point. I don't think a higher level club should more or less subsume a lower league club, or practically run one, like what is happening with Rio Grande. I'm a firm believer that clubs working together to share best practices and discover and develop talent is a good thing. However, no higher level team should ever be involved in day to day operations in any capacity.
Pyramid: My idea of a pyramid is simple. Currently we have three levels of professional soccer. Id love to have a few more, but we'll stick with three for right now. In my pyramid, you'd have three levels. 24 teams at the top, 36 teams in the second, 72 in the third. That's 132 professional teams or, 1 professional team for every 2,462,121 people in the United States
Scheduling is easy. In the top division, the teams play conference opponents home and away for 22 total games. All teams in the opposing conference are played one, 6 at home, 6 away, to bring the total to 34 games. You're 2 biggest rivals are played 1 more time to bring the total to 36 games.
Level 2 is the same, except no out of conference play. Home and away means 34 games, 2 more against your biggest rivals is 36 games.
Level 3, same thing. Only play in conference, 36 games again.
Playoffs: Playoffs can be, and often are, a crap shoot. Seeing the 2 best teams actually square for a title is rare. Not in this system.
Level 1, the winners of the conferences play each in a single title game. Team with best record hosts.
Level 2, the conference winning teams replace the last place teams in the top flight. The second place teams in each conference then have a one game playoff against the second to last place team in level 1. If this system was in place this year, it means San Antonio FC would have had a playoff against the Colorado Rapids, and Orlando City would have squared off with Miami FC. Tell me you wouldn't want to see those.
Level 3, the regional winners have a playoff against the lowest ranked team from their region in Level 2 unless that team is in last place already, in which case promotion and relegation is automatic. This keeps things balanced between Level 2 and Level 3. This is where B teams would reside, ineligible for promotion.
Standards: There needs to be some kind of a minimum standard here, same as there is in Germany and the UK. In my mind, it's not unrealistic to require teams to show financial ability to play at the highest level, and have a stadium capable of generating enough revenue to make the team sustainable. In my mind, requiring teams to play in a stadium that seats a minimum of 10,000 people, while being financially transparent about what they are capable of doing. Before you think this is too much, remember that Bournemouth made it to the Premier League with a stadium that fit 12,000, so this standard isn't bad at all.
Anyway, I hope that clears some things up, while recapping some of my arguments for promotion and relegation. Let me know what you think in the comments.