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shamrock

NASL vs USL Pro: soccerwar in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City didn't have a soccerteam. Now they are about to have two:

http://newsok.com/okcs-soccer-war-needs-one-winner/article/3858541

It's an interesting read, and I wonder how this will unfold. Damn, it's even funny if the consequences wouldn't be that tough.

Think about it: apparently the USL (and PDL!) -franchises sign has a clause which prevents them from playing for another league (NASL). If the judge upholds that clause, it has big consequences. It would mean no more team could "naturally" develop anymore. To me it seems pretty logical for an owner to start with a low-cost PDL-franchise, see how that works out and maybe then move up the ranks to, for instance, the NASL (just like Oklahoma City FC intends to do).

I always thought that some of the more succesful PDL-teams could make the switch some day to the PRO's, and then make the choice between USL Pro and NASL. I would even suggest it's in the interest of soccer-development in N-A to have that opportunity.

And I even wonder if they can have this clause for their USL Pro-franchises, because most of the current NASL teams WERE USL Pro teams before the switch. Could the Rochester Rhinos (for instance) never join the NASL unless they cease operations all together and start all over from scratch? That would be bullsh<*$.

Also, what's up with USL Pro anyway? They are desperately trying to prevent NASL expanding into newer markets it seems. If there's rumours about an new team, suddenly USL Pro announces a new franchise. It seems childish and above all, hinders the development of the professional game in Norh-America. What good does it do to have two teams in the Tampa Bay Area?

Edited by shamrock

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Yes, It is literally turning into cola War.

The USL-NASL split is obviously acrimonious, but technically I don't think there is anything to stop two teams operating (and probably dying) in the same town.

Question. Is it the PDL team looking to Go NASL?

If so like the MLS the Impact and Caps both wound up their Div2 businesses and reformed as MLS teams, would not the same apply?

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Yes, It is literally turning into cola War.

The USL-NASL split is obviously acrimonious, but technically I don't think there is anything to stop two teams operating (and probably dying) in the same town.

Question. Is it the PDL team looking to Go NASL?

If so like the MLS the Impact and Caps both wound up their Div2 businesses and reformed as MLS teams, would not the same apply?

The way I understand it is the PDL club wanted to move up. They talked to USL about going up to USL Pro. However, USL had another preferred investor group lined up already and denied the PDL club the chance of moving up. So the PDL group went to the NASL, who has yet to formally approve them but it sounds like a rubber stamp at this point. The PDL/NASL club already has a lease at a historic stadium in OKC (Taft Stadium) that is being rebuilt into essentially a new 7500 seat park which will be ready for the 2015 season. The USL Pro group says they will play in 2014 but don't have a lease yet.

The NASL/PDL group says the non-compete clause they signed with USL is invalid because they are denying them the chance to move up. The courts will decide. To make it more interesting, the primary owner of each group in OKC used to be business partners in minor pro sports in town but bitterly broke up. So not only is this a NASL vs USL battle, it's two local business guys who used to work together but now don't get along. Should be interesting.

Jason

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When is the NASL voting again? Mid July, that much I know. They will be voting on whether or not to go to OKC. With all of this stupid crap, NASL as a league may almost be forced to vote it down. If they DON'T, then it's quite obvious, that as you say, they are going to war. Which would be crazy...neither league is in a position financially to be so hard nosed.

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However, USL had another preferred investor group lined up already and denied the PDL club the chance of moving up.

Interesting. I was under the impression (from the discussions around the Highlanders forming back in 2008) that USL owners own exclusive rights to a territory for any and all USL leagues. I was under the impression that Vancouver (in the USL1 at the time) had to give consent for Victoria to enter the PDL as they "owned" the territory.

If the above is true and there are no protected territories to balance the non-compete clause then there is even more wrong with USL than I thought. I find it incredible that the existing PDL owner would not have the right of first refusal on a USLPro spot. As an owner that right there would be enough for me to leave.

One thing seems to be clear, a personal dispute between rich owners threatens to derail progress in soccer.

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Interesting. I was under the impression (from the discussions around the Highlanders forming back in 2008) that USL owners own exclusive rights to a territory for any and all USL leagues. I was under the impression that Vancouver (in the USL1 at the time) had to give consent for Victoria to enter the PDL as they "owned" the territory.

If the above is true and there are no protected territories to balance the non-compete clause then there is even more wrong with USL than I thought. I find it incredible that the existing PDL owner would not have the right of first refusal on a USLPro spot. As an owner that right there would be enough for me to leave.

One thing seems to be clear, a personal dispute between rich owners threatens to derail progress in soccer.

I know that it is the main reason why there wasn't a Quebec (City) team in USL Pro. The Impact did not approve that for whatever reason.

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Interesting. I was under the impression (from the discussions around the Highlanders forming back in 2008) that USL owners own exclusive rights to a territory for any and all USL leagues. I was under the impression that Vancouver (in the USL1 at the time) had to give consent for Victoria to enter the PDL as they "owned" the territory.

If the above is true and there are no protected territories to balance the non-compete clause then there is even more wrong with USL than I thought. I find it incredible that the existing PDL owner would not have the right of first refusal on a USLPro spot. As an owner that right there would be enough for me to leave.

One thing seems to be clear, a personal dispute between rich owners threatens to derail progress in soccer.

The USL does talk on their website about owning a territory when owning a franchise. And I agree about what you say about first right of refusal. That used to be the rule in the past - I know this through a former PDL owner that I know. But apparently the NASL incursion has resulted in the addition of a non-compete clause so who knows what else has changed.

Jason

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But how does USL issue a non compete write on the NASL?

They have no connection to them.

To me it would be like A dodge dealership suing a Toyota dealership for selling cars. On a lot sanctioned by the City ...to sell cars?

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But how does USL issue a non compete write on the NASL?

They have no connection to them.

To me it would be like A dodge dealership suing a Toyota dealership for selling cars. On a lot sanctioned by the City ...to sell cars?

It's not unusual to have no-compete clauses written into agreements. Using the car example, if you own a Dodge dealership they may get you to sign a non-compete saying you won't open or buy any other non-Dodge car dealerships. This is an example I have no idea how the car dealerships work. So it would be entirely possible to include in the USL franchise agreement that you would agree to not operate a soccer club outside the USL unless you get their permission. I'm not a lawyer, but the one thing I know about non-competes is that they have to be reasonable to be enforceable. The argument the PDL/NASL group is using is that they want to move up, but were denied the USL Pro option by the USL.

Jason

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Okay,

So what I'm understanding here is that because the PDL team had an agreement with USL. USL are now saying they cannot become an NASL team even though USL have been restricting the PDL there progression into a higher level.

Seems like sharp practice (and sheer bloody mindedness) on the Part of USL to me.

Question. What would happen if the PDL team decided to fold and Re-establish under Another name as an NASL side. But made it totally Public that they did this and that all references to the former we irrelevant?

Again I can't see How USL can dictate to NASL.

Also, where is the USSF in all of this? In the UK this wouldn't happen. That's why we have Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, Liverpool and Everton etc. However Football disputes are inevitably dealt with by the FA.

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Okay,

So what I'm understanding here is that because the PDL team had an agreement with USL. USL are now saying they cannot become an NASL team even though USL have been restricting the PDL there progression into a higher level.

Seems like sharp practice (and sheer bloody mindedness) on the Part of USL to me.

Question. What would happen if the PDL team decided to fold and Re-establish under Another name as an NASL side. But made it totally Public that they did this and that all references to the former we irrelevant?

Again I can't see How USL can dictate to NASL.

Also, where is the USSF in all of this? In the UK this wouldn't happen. That's why we have Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, Liverpool and Everton etc. However Football disputes are inevitably dealt with by the FA.

Without looking at the document it would be tough to know for sure, but I'd guess that the contract says that any of the shareholders of the company that owns the PDL club cannot own another soccer club outside the USL while they own the PDL club and for a period of time (1 or 2 years maybe) after they sell/fold that club. The USL is probably now getting all of their new clubs to sign a deal like this as a condition of entry. Pretty smart on their part.

I don't see a role for the USSF here. There is nothing preventing a the MLS, NASL, and USL Pro club setting up on the same street in a city. The issue here is the non-compete, and that's an issue between owner and league. Most pro leagues in North America have these concepts about territories that simply never existed in Europe. The USL is very big on this when you look at their prospective franchise info on their website. I've always thought it's a horrible idea as derbies are usually fantastic. Look at the NHL - wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if there were two teams in Minnesota - one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul? Or two teams in places like Chicago, Boston, or Detroit (when their economy was better)? Or three teams in the Toronto area? I think the benefits can outweigh the possible division of fan loyalties providing the city is big enough and/or the fan base is into the sport enough. That's the problem with OKC - it's very unlikely that it's big enough or has enough soccer fans to support two teams.

Jason

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Without looking at the document it would be tough to know for sure, but I'd guess that the contract says that any of the shareholders of the company that owns the PDL club cannot own another soccer club outside the USL while they own the PDL club and for a period of time (1 or 2 years maybe) after they sell/fold that club. The USL is probably now getting all of their new clubs to sign a deal like this as a condition of entry. Pretty smart on their part.

Jason

No, not pretty smart. It won't stand up in court and its petty and ridiculous. USL Pro is still trying to go to war with the NASL and in the end they will still be D3 no matter how they try to spin things. I watched they're presentation to OK City and it was lies. They actually tried to say they are the league below MLS and NASL is off to the side, when NASL is clearly D2 and USL Pro D3. They just can't accept that they're 3rd division and have an inferiority complex.

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I also find it ridiculous. They should have said, you know what?, we don't care about NASL because we are USL Pro and we start sooner and we are better etc etc. But no, they are actively trying to prevent the other group from forming a new team. If you got any confidence, you wouldn't be needing this type of action. Look at how Seamus responded to the new NYCFC-announcement. With class: let them do it we don't care.

Btw they lost the bid for Taft-stadion fair and squair (why would that be? Not because their plan was the best) and now they got the league to help them. I mean let them get the USL Pro team and have it compeding with the NASL-team. I don't see any problem in that (they will even have a head-start, as the other group has to rebuild a (community-) stadion first). Fact is, peeps are probably going to be more excited about the Scorpions coming over, than say the Dayton Dutch Lions.

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Thanks for the link Jason. Certainly makes me doubt that the USL is capable of anything positive and makes me call into question my previous support for the USL Pro as the right vehicle to build third division soccer in Canada.

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Thanks for the link Jason. Certainly makes me doubt that the USL is capable of anything positive and makes me call into question my previous support for the USL Pro as the right vehicle to build third division soccer in Canada.

It seems like my suspicions about the non-compete were pretty close to accurate. I think the NASL group has a decent chance. Non-competes need to be reasonable, and it sounds like the USL agreement is very broad. Not being able to operate an amateur or pro team anywhere for where it could compete with a USL club for 2 years is a bit much. To use a non-soccer example, if a dentist sold his practice to someone else, he`d probably sign a non-compete to not set up a new practice in the same town (or an area of a large city) for a couple years. This would probably be reasonable. A non-compete that said he can`t practice dentistry anywhere in the province would be unreasonable and even if it was signed would probably be unenforceable.

From the USL perspective, I`m sure their lawyers wrote it as broad as as possible to start and then they hope clubs adhere to it and not challenge it. If the day comes where it goes to court and they lose, their lawyers have to re-write it then. That`s how the legal system usually works.

I would like it if the NASL and USL could somehow co-exist but it seems to me that the USL is hell bent on feuding with them. I think there`s room for both entities but it seems to me USL can`t accept the existence any non-USL leagues outside of MLS.

Jason

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I also find it ridiculous. They should have said, you know what?, we don't care about NASL because we are USL Pro and we start sooner and we are better etc etc. But no, they are actively trying to prevent the other group from forming a new team. If you got any confidence, you wouldn't be needing this type of action. Look at how Seamus responded to the new NYCFC-announcement. With class: let them do it we don't care.

Btw they lost the bid for Taft-stadion fair and squair (why would that be? Not because their plan was the best) and now they got the league to help them. I mean let them get the USL Pro team and have it compeding with the NASL-team. I don't see any problem in that (they will even have a head-start, as the other group has to rebuild a (community-) stadion first). Fact is, peeps are probably going to be more excited about the Scorpions coming over, than say the Dayton Dutch Lions.

Or Rather, the NEW YORK COSMOS.

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Thanks for the link Jason. Certainly makes me doubt that the USL is capable of anything positive and makes me call into question my previous support for the USL Pro as the right vehicle to build third division soccer in Canada.

Ted,

below is Forever Thursdays take on USL, I'm sure he won't mind me lifting it form the ESG forum as I'd rather not misquote him. It is in response to the USL assertion, "USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below and in support of MLS, both on and off the field."

Alright, it is quotes and attitudes like this that make the USL Pro a smoke and mirrors operation that just sells snake oil to markets and then doesn't do anything for the well being of the club once they get their money from the franchise fees. USL teams fold because the USL basically says you're on your own once you are tricked into joining.

There are good USL Pro clubs, but they are successful despite the USL. They are in locations that can draw numbers, they have decent facilities, and they have a history, enough of a history to be ingrained in the general populace.

The USL is so abusive to soccer in North America that I would argue they have hurt soccer more then helped it. They have always fought having strict ownership standards because the health of a club isn't as important as tricking some semi rich businessman into paying a franchise fee.

I personally would like to see the CSA ban the USL at all levels from Canada, and that would be two-fold. It would force Canada to really create a development program custom for us, and a women's league that costs less then what they are burdened with now.

The NASL has strict demands regarding ownership, cities, facilities, and management. The two leagues are so different that statements like the one we saw from the USL just pushes their inferiority to the broad daylight.

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Ted,

below is Forever Thursdays take on USL, I'm sure he won't mind me lifting it form the ESG forum as I'd rather not misquote him. It is in response to the USL assertion, "USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below and in support of MLS, both on and off the field."

Alright, it is quotes and attitudes like this that make the USL Pro a smoke and mirrors operation that just sells snake oil to markets and then doesn't do anything for the well being of the club once they get their money from the franchise fees. USL teams fold because the USL basically says you're on your own once you are tricked into joining.

There are good USL Pro clubs, but they are successful despite the USL. They are in locations that can draw numbers, they have decent facilities, and they have a history, enough of a history to be ingrained in the general populace.

The USL is so abusive to soccer in North America that I would argue they have hurt soccer more then helped it. They have always fought having strict ownership standards because the health of a club isn't as important as tricking some semi rich businessman into paying a franchise fee.

I personally would like to see the CSA ban the USL at all levels from Canada, and that would be two-fold. It would force Canada to really create a development program custom for us, and a women's league that costs less then what they are burdened with now.

The NASL has strict demands regarding ownership, cities, facilities, and management. The two leagues are so different that statements like the one we saw from the USL just pushes their inferiority to the broad daylight.

I wanted to add a comment about the USL and how it runs - it is very much a league driven by the head office. Most leagues have commissioners that are selected by the owners of the clubs, and owners are typically quite involved in how the league is operated. Even in the single entity MLS, the owners have a lot of say in what happens. This is not how the USL works at all. I think that was one of the issues with the breakaway NASL clubs - they wanted more control over their own destiny. And how I understand, the NASL's operational structure is much like other leagues re: the involvement of the owners about direction and so forth.

Jason

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PDL OWNER OF TEAM A wants an NASL team but signed a contract just let your spouse start the NASL team and you get hired as the janitor......after X years the janitor will become owner. The American Dream exists...:)

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I wanted to add a comment about the USL and how it runs - it is very much a league driven by the head office. Most leagues have commissioners that are selected by the owners of the clubs, and owners are typically quite involved in how the league is operated. Even in the single entity MLS, the owners have a lot of say in what happens. This is not how the USL works at all. I think that was one of the issues with the breakaway NASL clubs - they wanted more control over their own destiny. And how I understand, the NASL's operational structure is much like other leagues re: the involvement of the owners about direction and so forth.

Jason

The Owners are very much owners (rather than owner-operators) in the NASL. They own the rights to their own clubs rather than been the guys who bought the rights to operate a team determined by the league. Remember MLS is a single entity structure and owns the Rights to the Clubs. I get the Impression USL likes to think it operates along similar principles, but at times I cant make out how they work.

Also, I'm not sure if NASL is officially set up under a Corporation model similar to the EPL (US law may not allow it?), but with clubs determining their own Kits, sponsors and (at present) TV deals, it certainly looks more like EPL than the MLS in that regard.

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The Owners are very much owners (rather than owner-operators) in the NASL. They own the rights to their own clubs rather than been the guys who bought the rights to operate a team determined by the league. Remember MLS is a single entity structure and owns the Rights to the Clubs. I get the Impression USL likes to think it operates along similar principles, but at times I cant make out how they work.

Also, I'm not sure if NASL is officially set up under a Corporation model similar to the EPL (US law may not allow it?), but with clubs determining their own Kits, sponsors and (at present) TV deals, it certainly looks more like EPL than the MLS in that regard.

I think the main problem with USL is that they receive a lot of their revenues from their development leagues and the top tier is not given the amount of attention and weight that it should have. It is a bit like if the conference and League 2 teams were given priority over the EPL because they had larger revenues. I think the NASL USL split was largely caused by many NASL owners feeling their concerns were not being addressed and that decisions were mired in an amateur soccer bureaucracy not dedicated to promoting a professional league. You are right that NASL is the closest of the 3 leagues to the European model. I am happy the Impact are playing in MLS because the level is higher and the opponents are more interesting. However, if I was only choosing a league on the basis of how it is run, I preferred the NASL to the overbearing corporate centrally controlled MLS.

I don't think the USL non-competitive clause will stand up in court but the question is can they delay things enough or create enough roadblocks to sabotage the NASL team before the process is decided. They may even scuttle both teams with their legal challenge. On the other hand I would think the owners of the PDL team might have a good case to sue the USL for financial damages since in my understanding of the legality of such clauses, it looks to me that the one breaching the clause is the USL by granting a USL franchise to another group in the same city as their franchisee. An exclusivity clause works in two directions not just one.

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Grizz, as a true Montreal Impact fan I'd suggest you'd probably watch them in whatever league they found themselves in.;)

Considering I still follow my German team who after several bankruptcies now find themselves in the 7th division I think you are correct that I would watch the Impact whatever league. I do miss some things about NASL even though the level of play is much better in MLS. At one point NASL might have had a good shot at challenging MLS for first division status and maybe it might have resulted in a better more fan driven league as opposed to the MLS corporate driven model. However, when all the better teams jumped ship for MLS that option vanished and the Impact did not have much choice than to follow.

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