January 7, 2014
MY TWO CENTS
A few reasons why promotion/relegation system could be a success in the United States
The first of two parts
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Matt Levine
With soccer growing in popularity domestically as well as interest in the European/South American leagues and international tournaments still on the rise, the professional leagues in the United States still have many questions that need to be answered.
One of them is the promotion/relegation debate and if it could work in the US. Here are a few of the many reasons why promotion/relegation could work:
More established clubs can move to top division
With the success of established clubs such as the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and the potential for Orlando City moving from a lower division to the Major League Soccer, having more teams bring their fan bases to the top flight can only be a positive. It also takes away the need for expansion teams. Not only could teams bring their fan bases, it also opens up more markets across the U.S. to tap into soccer communities without building a club from the ground up. Also, who doesn’t love seeing an improbable run for a team beginning in the lower divisions and earning promoted to the top division. One stumbling block is clearly the MLS expansion fee as the league will not want to lose out on that income.
Clubs who don’t belong in a given division won’t be the ollowing year
Anyone would be hard pressed to argue that D.C United, Toronto FC and Chivas USA performed at an MLS caliber level in 2013. The top teams in the second division such as the New York Cosmos (North American Soccer League champions), Atlanta Silverbacks (runners-up) and the Carolina RailHawks (Finished with the best overall record) could have possibly had a much better showing than the aforementioned three clubs. At least with a promotion/relegation system we would get the chance to find out.
Excitement at both ends Of the table
Having a promotion/relegation system creates important matches for the top and bottom of the table. In any given season one team can either run away with the league as well as a team can play horribly that no one can match their profligacy. However, even if a team wraps up a title with a few games remaining, there is always the relegation dogfight. It not only adds the feeling of ecstasy for the players and fans of the club that wins the league, but also joy (well more relief) for a club that survives the drop or the agony of being relegated to a lower division.
Continue to grow globally
Soccer is the world’s game. However, the professional leagues in the U.S. haven’t always matched up with the way things are done in other leagues throughout the world. Some differences definitely have credence, such as playing in the summer to avoid competing with other top sports leagues. However, promotion/relegation is one change that could be made to line up with the world. As the game domestically grows more in line with the way soccer is played throughout the world and of course the level of play continues to improve, the game here should gain more respect in international eyes.
Next: How promotion/relegation would work
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