January 8, 2014
MY TWO CENTS
Part II: A few reasons how promotion/relegation system could be a success in the United States
Second 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 U.S.
Here are a few of the many reasons how promotion/relegation could work:
Combine the divisions under one unified soccer pyramid
This is the most obvious of what would need to be done in order to have promotion/relegation take off. The structure with the Major League Soccer, North American Soccer League and USL Pro already is in place to support a unified structure with at least four main divisions with the other leagues falling in as non-league sides similar to the divisions in England.
Combining the leagues, although not easy, would be very beneficial in the long run. Having the divisions follow the same rules as well as playing similar schedules allows for consistency throughout the U.S. soccer landscape.
No salary cap
One of the main sticking points that could prevent this system is that the MLS has a salary cap while the NASL doesnít. With no salary cap, it enables teams to bring in the players they want and not worry about having to only sign a given number of designated players. Also with no salary cap, it may help recruiting the players who arenít quite superstars without having to pay Designated Player money for them.
Bringing in more quality players can only be a good thing. Also if clubs are worried about certain teams spending way more than their means, something similar to Financial Fair Play could be enacted to make sure teams only spend what they can. Punishments for teams that violate it, could range from having to miss out on the Open Cup or CONCACAF Champions League or forfeiting draft picks.
In the U.S., to determine a champion there is typically a playoff system. Around the world, no other soccer has a playoff to determine the league champion, but they are used to determine promotion/relegation. Using that in the U.S. could bridge the gap for those that want to see playoffs.
Although there are many different playoff systems throughout the world, one interesting way could be doing a tournament. The bottom team in the top division would automatically be relegated, just as the top team from the division below would be promoted. The next two bottom teams in the top division and the next four teams in the division below would play in a round robin tournament and the top two teams in this promotion/relegation bracket would be promoted, while the remaining would play in the second division. This gives teams in the top division at least a chance of redemption to stay in the top flight, as well as creating some more end of the season drama and excitement, which playoff games normally bring.
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