Over 100 clubs write to US Soccer calling for promotion and relegation

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 02: New US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro stands on the sidelines before the US Men's National Team friendly soccer match against Costa Rica on February 2, 2019 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Soccer clubs across the United States are stepping up pressure on US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro to open discussions on its closed league system which, they say, is stifling growth.

Over 100 clubs outside Major League Soccer have signed a letter delivered to Cordeiro as well as Fifa president Gianni Infantino and other leaders of the world game. The letter calls for the introduction of a system of promotion and relegation in line with Fifa requirements elsewhere in the world and refutes the idea that the prospect of relegation is a disincentive to investors.

In the letter Chris Kessell, president of the West Side Soccer Club, attributes the failure rate of many clubs to their inability to progress up a pyramid. He writes: “Despite major sporting progress since 1994, the failure rate of clubs and leagues across the US soccer landscape vastly exceeds any other country in the world.

“Dozens of team owners from multiple leagues have seen their investments go to waste and hundreds if not thousands of players have seen their potential unrealized. In global soccer terms this situation is unique and, the evidence suggests, is a function of the exceptional nature of our closed model.”

He continues: “[We] request a dialogue with you about the benefits of an open system for US soccer and how we can work with you to comply with Fifa’s rules and, more importantly, unlock the potential of the beautiful game in the United States…an open system is something clubs, players and fans across the United States want to see in US soccer.”

The letter references the claim filed by Miami FC and Kingston Stockade FC at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying: “We understand Kingston Stockade FC and Miami FC have been outspoken about their efforts to bring the issue of Article 9 and Promotion and Relegation to the attention of the US Soccer Federation and Fifa. Let it be known that they are not the only clubs that want to see this happen – an open system is something clubs, players and fans across the United States want to see in US soccer.”

Kessell later spoke exclusively to SportBusiness about his efforts, saying: “This letter is to show that clubs all across America want the same opportunities as clubs around the world.”

Read more: Up-and-down | MLS Pro-Rel debate returns

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