Expansion by contraction – The death of Atlanta?

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The NASL has expanded the 2016 Spring season by two new teams in two new cities!

And yet its size remains the same.

While Rayo OKC and Miami FC are set to kick a ball for the first time this year, this is tempered by the news that the San Antonio Scorpions have ceased operations in the NASL and, just tonight, the league-operated Atlanta Silverbacks will not play in 2016, and possibly ever again.

“The goal all along has been to secure committed local ownership in Atlanta, but despite significant conversations with a number of interested parties, we were unable to identify a group that could lead the Silverbacks in a direction consistent with the rest of our clubs,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said. “It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years.”

With the start of Atlanta United of MLS on the horizon, it’s easy to imagine the difficulty in finding a new ownership group who would want to keep the club in its hometown and combat an MLS side.

But, Commissioner Peterson was correct about the passion of its fan base, in which there was plenty of fight. Before the 2015 season, a GoFundMe was created by the Atlanta Silverbacks Alliance Council to support players of a club that was allegedly operating on a shoestring budget. The NASL Atlanta Trust came into operation at the end of the season in a bid to create a lifeline for the club.

But without the ability to find a local ownership group to keep them in Atlanta, it seems that all these efforts were in vain. With NASL clubs footing the bill for the operation of the Silverbacks, it was reported by Sulaiman Folarin’s sources at the Board of Governers meeting in September that only four NASL teams wanted to continue this set-up. At this juncture, it seems a safe bet to say that most of the clubs did not want to be its support any longer.

An 11-team NASL went into the offseason at season’s end and after two expansions, an 11-team NASL will resume operations. Puerto Rico FC will join in the fall, but with Minnesota United on the way out, this is another game of “good news, bad news”. Here’s to hoping the next expansions in Chicago and the West Coast happen by 2017 and that the rest of the league can keep its shape.

What are your thoughts? It seemed to me that the club would fold at some point, perhaps be moved west. The suspension of operations doesn’t really come as a surprise, but it’s the impact on the size of the league as growth was coming that disappoints me. Perhaps it finds new life elsewhere? Comment below.

 

Nicks ThoughtsAny time a team has to cease operations, American soccer loses. However, this is the world we live in. Clubs all over the world go into administration and sometimes fold. Sometimes they get resurrected by the fans (AFC Wimbledon).

In this case though, fans tried their hardest to keep the team going and I commend Paul Scanling and the Atlanta Supporters Trust for their hard work. Sadly though, in this country, with closed leagues and no pro/rel, no one is going to invest in the Silverbacks when Arthur Blank will have an MLS team in his new NFL stadium in downtown Atlanta.

Another thing that stinks is that the league is losing a soccer specific stadium that was built and owned by the club. We can only hope that OKC and Miami can pick up the slack and make us forget about the two tough losses this year in Atlanta and San Antonio.

5 thoughts on “Expansion by contraction – The death of Atlanta?

  1. Hi.

    First, let me say that I like the direction the site has taken.

    Second, let me add that it was nice finally meeting you in September.

    Third,, this seemed inevitable. The next 3 to 5 years will consist of MLS trying to swallow NASL markets ams NASL try to move into MLS markets and find new markets. NASL needs a goal of 16 viable teams. That would be a good place to be.

  2. I am definitely someone that is rooting for the NASL. I will say that the league is in trouble and they need stability. You can’t keep losing markets. If I were the commish, I would do everything in my power to do the following (pending viable ownership of course):

    – Get the West Coast expansion as soon as possible. They need teams in good markets and MLS can’t keep expanding without end. After MLS gets to 32 teams, they really can’t expand more due to scheduling (actually anything more than 24 becomes really problematic so I curios how that is going to go.

    – Get the Chicago franchise up and announced and call them the Sting. In fact they should look at some of the other markets from the old NASL like Tulsa and keep the names.

    – Poach vulnerable USL markets. Rochester should be a team that is in the NASL once they get good ownership. No way MLS expands there.

    – Do WHATEVER YOU CAN to get the Canadian League under the NASL banner. That should have been the plan all along. That will make the “NA” in NASL a true meaning. Maybe they don’t play directly but have some “interleague” play. Allow Ottawa and/or Edmonton to do in there if they want but they all can still win the NASL Cup.

    – Get the Cosmos their stadium. This is a long shot and quite frankly if they don’t get it, the league is in trouble as the Cosmos are not playing another 5-6 years at Hofstra.

  3. I’d like to see more Canadian teams so the NASL can be declared Canada’s 1st division. If MLS can have teams in Canada & be the US 1st division, the reverse should be true as well.

  4. MLS is bound and determined to kill off any and all competition with their illegal SES..this extends to the USL and has resulted in a crap style and quality of football. NASL needs to stabilize its league and expansion into Canada, west coast, Caribbean and mid west are the only regions they should focus on. Being a Div 2 league that operates closer to a Div 3 level is not an issue. This is the time to make or break this league as MLS will surely expand to 32 teams as the greed grows and will ensure USL is established in every other city possible. I would not be surprised to see a 48-64 team USL in the next few years. NASL needs to grow to 24 teams with a 6 team Canuck div that acts as its national league to survive the colluding and illegal actions of MLS.

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