So, as this blog is called The Relegated, I figured I might as well comment on the promotion/relegation discussion, this time raised by NPSL, particularly after reading Parlor City’s excellent post about the subject.
The NPSL, for those not deeply immersed in soccer, is an amateur league made of mostly current and recent college players, much like the USL PDL league. It is organized into regions and then smaller, local divisions are created within those regions.
As far as relegation/promotion is concerned, there are a couple of things going on here. First, I doubt that NPSL is thinking of making a national league, with promotion/relegation from their regional leagues. The owners just don’t have the resources or funding necessary. Detroit City FC is part-owned by a teacher, for instance. Trust me, teacher’s ain’t rich, that’s for sure.
Instead, It’s like that they will make 3 or 4 regional leagues, with the teams being promoted/relegated from the divisional leagues to the regional leagues.
When I first heard this, I swear, my heart skipped a beat. It would be amazing if there was finally promotion and relegation in the top 4 divisions of soccer in the US. But the more I think about it, the less I see it working. Here’s why.
I don’t think the regional leagues will actually improve the finances of the NPSL teams. These teams often are run on a shoe string budget. They don’t pay their players, and the players travel mostly by bus to their games. Would a team in Buffalo really want to be in the same league as a team in Minnesota, using two teams from the Midwest Region as an example. A bus trip would be 16-18 hours, which is likely too long.
Instead, they would have to fly, at a significantly higher cost. Would this regional league bring in more revenue for the teams? I find that hard to believe, as most of these teams struggle to draw crowds, and the regional league doesn’t seem like it would increase awareness or media coverage.
Finally, they would need to add a lot of teams for there to be enough teams for there to be an upper and lower division in each division without unreasonably taxing the teams travel costs.
I would love to see promotion/relegation in the US. I’m just unfortunately skeptical of this league introducing promotion/relegation. Now, if the USL-PDL and NPSL leagues got together, I think there are enough teams for these two leagues to create upper and lower divisions in each region that wouldn’t add to the costs to teams to run.
We’ll see though. It’ll be a long time before we see anything approaching true promotion and relegation in the US soccer pyramid, but even though I don’t see this plan working, I’m glad that the idea is being broached.