TOA Grabs Two Pieces of NASL Legacy


This morning, my personal site, the Kartik Report along with partner site Inside Minnesota Soccer was among those breaking the story that Crystal Palace Baltimore and Paul Dalglish’s Tampa Bay Rowdies were joining the new TOA “breakaway” league
Later it was reported at USL News,  and discussed at Match Fit USA among other places, that Miami FC has purchased the trademark for the defunct North American Soccer League.
This is certainly a controversial, yet highly notable move by the TOA.
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USL has released the following statement

USL press release
Friday, November 20, 2009

TAMPA – In response to the Team Owner’s Association (TOA) announcement that the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore will be joining a prospective new professional soccer league, United Soccer Leagues (USL) has issued the following statement:

“Both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore have contractual commitments to USL to play in the 2010 USL First Division (USL-1) season. USL will pursue all actions to protect its interests and those of the USL-1 teams from any breach of contract caused by Tampa and Baltimore.”

“USL further believes TOA is tortuously interfering with USL-1 team owners that are contractually obligated to participate in the 2010 season. TOA has made several misleading statements in a variety of press releases to taint the reputation of USL and its long history of developing the sport of soccer in the United States and Canada. USL will vigorously defend its legal interests against the TOA’s tortuous interference in contractual relationships with its team owners.”

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

36 Responses to TOA Grabs Two Pieces of NASL Legacy

  1. Lars says:

    Yes, yes, but Montreal is headed to MLS for certain, according to Canadian news sources anyway. It’s Called Football states that it’s confirmed that Saputo and Garber will announce it at the MLS Cup.

  2. Lars says:

    Oh, and NASL is the right name for this league. At least it doesn’t deceive anyone as to the geographic location of the teams. It acknowledges the two country nature of football on this continent, even if it bothers some people.

  3. Andrew says:

    NASL is a great name. The legacy and history married with a two nation vision for the league.

    Kartik, the league you love, USL is on life support. Sorry buddy, but that press release sounds like a warring nation close to defeat firing off all their missiles and rockets from a bunker.

    The TOA will win because they have the biggest clubs, the better owners and the right principle- club owns the league.

    The NASL name, which reflects the history of these clubs and the awakening to this sport that came in the 1970s after 40 years of being a professional soccer wasteland is icing on the cake.

    • Lars says:

      The question though is if NASL survives the loss of Vancouver and Montreal. OR if Montreal and Vancouver will keep it alive by putting reserve/developmental teams in the league. Quebec and Victoria anyone? 😛

      • Vancouver is committed to leaving a team behind in the new league, but it is possible they will opt for Edmonton instead of Victoria, I have been told.

        Quebec is logical if Montreal chooses to do the same, which they have hinted at.

        • Lars says:

          Wow, we can have another Edmonton failure. *facepalm*

          I’m from the Prairies, and I’m telling the owners of anyone planning on putting a pro team on Prairies…It’s a guaranteed failure! This is pointy ball territory…

          Edmonton has repeatedly failed for this reason.

          Amateur and semi-pro might work…but definitely not pro.

  4. 77 YR says:

    So are we to assume by taking the NASL name, we are accepting that Canadian teams will ALWAYS be in this league?

    Then I vote no.

    At least with MLS we have an opportunity to kick out the Canadian teams to a CSA sanctioned league when they have a first division.

    So let’s see MLS will have 3 Canadian teams, this new TOA”NASL” at least two and a ton still in PDL with USL opening a Canadian office.

    Call me a racist or whatever, but this is totally out of control.

  5. Uncle Ed says:

    I think it’s a great move.
    Ottawa is said to also be headed to the TOA league. USL is losing ground very fast!

  6. The Gaffer says:

    The return of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, anyone? Miami FC would be wise to change the name of the club and permanently return to Lockhart Stadium.

    The Gaffer

    • Waterloo 11 says:

      That would be awesome. But I thought someone (Ray Hudson) had the rights to the name. Can anyone confirm?

      • The Gaffer says:

        Waterloo, I believe Eddie Rodgers owns the name. He’s a local soccer promoter in South Florida.

        The Gaffer

        • Miami Ultra says:

          Not according to the US Trademark search engine(the one that turned up the recent NASL news, and lists Miami Fusion as a dead trademark). He could own it, but it’s not on the public record.

          Whatever the case I think they need to make that change though. And if not Lockhart, then the Cricket Stadium in Lauderhill. Bring back the Strikers!

          And if the TOA could get an Orlando team started up as well that would be stellar.

          And the USL looks worse with every statement they release. They just seem desperate at this point. Not one but two uses of the phrase “tortuous interference”. They could force Tampa and CPB to play next year in USL-1, but what kind of shaky relationship is that? “Yeah we know you’re leaving but you have to play here anyway”. If that’s the case I’m hoping for a TB vs. CPB USL-1 final next year lol.

  7. Adam Edg says:

    I love it to be honest. Seeing the sheer number of teams in critical markets moving to the TOA/NASL just makes me think that USL must have some major issues that have yet to be discussed. I love seeing the return of the retro/beloved names along with new favorites like Fire, Galaxy, Dynamo, etc. We all know the Cosmos name is up for grabs too and it is hard to imagine that name anywhere other than MLS – unless it is in the reborn NASL.
    Then again, pro hockey tried to bring back past glory a few years ago with the disaster that was WHA2. My fingers are crossed that this league leads a true revolution for the sport in this country (& Canada).

  8. NJ says:

    Does anyone know can the Rowdies and Crystal Palace Baltimore, actually leave the USL for TOA in 2010? How does the team contracts work in the USL? Finally, how bad does NuRock feel for paying Nike for a league that is just falling apart, I hope they had some clauses in the deal to ensure its solvency. Who is next to move, I’m sure the TOA would love a NY team.

    • Lars says:

      The USL is an opt in league by the teams. Theoretically the teams should have the right to pull out of the league.

    • They cannot leave USL as far as I know and must play 2010 in USL or risk a breach of contract lawsuit. But by signing on to the TOA they are stating their intent to play 2011 in a new league.

    • Rochester, I can confirm as has been reported elsewhere is very close to jumping to the TOA. While that’s not NYC, the Rhinos do have a following in upstate NY, hence their excellent attendance for many years (although they are down to about 7.5k after averaging 13k at one time).

  9. Dan says:

    Don’t be surprised if Austin jumps especially San Antonio gets a Team In the TOA/NASL.

  10. Jason Davis says:

    I think it’s probable that CPB and Tampa Bay play in USL in 2010 and make the move in 2011, but is there any possibility that they might attempt to void their contracts with USL based on some technicality?

    I’m no lawyer, but it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that they might try something like that.

  11. NJ says:

    some change of ownership clause….or teams exiting….good point

  12. Bart says:

    Folks, There is no way the Federation will sanction this new league this month, especially given the fact that TOA is poaching contractually obligated teams from USL-1. FIFA will not view this favorably, and the world of soccer will once again look in dismay at US if TOA is approved.

    It would be one thing if these were new teams, or teams that have been out of USL for a period of time, but these are very recent teams from USL that have banded together by taking USL contractual relationships, which is highly inappropriate in the US business world. Had Baltimore and Tampa not been contractually obligated, that would be one thing, as that may have been fair competition, but since they are contractually obligated to USL, this is a legal business tort that TOA will ultimately pay for in judgment by the courts.

    Also to have a press release during the USL AGM in Tampa clearly shows their desparation on their side. They have a very shaky foundation, in my humble opinion.

    • Lars says:

      The league will be sanctioned, and the teams breaking away from USL-1 will probably wait until next season. It’s not that difficult to figure out.

  13. Terry says:

    USL’s PR needs some help. They are truly desperate and trying to say any thing to intimidate owners of clubs who have been forced to lose money and operate clubs for years under strange rules that suck the life out of clubs for the benefit of the USL’s bottom line financially.

  14. ERT 145 says:

    excuse me while i rain on the parade, but the nasl was soccer for many of us. it is a cherished name, an institution, something still talked about and longed for across the globe.

    the toa is a group of second division owners in a dispute with their league. usl nor mls is the nasl. in this day and age with so many foreign players in euro leagues, it is impossible to recreate the nasl magic.

    the nasl was special and i do not want to see the brand name and its legacy cheapened particularly to the younger generation who have heard the romanticism and had to weigh that against the rhetoric from mls which deemed the nasl a “failure.”

    if the nasl failed, mls would have no players, because before the nasl, we had no youth soccer in the country and nothing but small ethnic leagues in big cities. the nasl took youth soccer from being non existent to the biggest youth sport in the country. the 1970s thanks to the cosmos, rowdies, sounders, whitecaps, kicks, strikers, soccers, etc began the process for soccer to be huge in this country.

    mls has benefited from the legacy. usl run by marcos an nasl executive himself has picked up on that legacy. mls has lasted longer because we have an infrastructure and interest that wasn’t there in the nasl days. but the nasl made it possible.

    i vote for the legacy will be cheapened and the cherished name must be retired.

    • Roger says:

      ERT- I would argue strongly the opposite.

      Most of the TOA cities are NASL cities. In fact it can be strongly argued MLS failed in Florida because neither city saw the product as acceptable after the NASL. The same can be said for struggles in New York and San Jose, both of which were core NASL cities.

      Embracing the NASL legacy will probably save these teams and the league from dying quickly, and save soccer in those cities. That’s the bottom line.

      Clever marketing.

      • ERT 145 says:

        Roger, you make my point for me.

        This will be a cheapened NASL, which takes the league’s legacy and trashes it for marketing gain. I have no doubt the league name helps in the markets you mention. Heck, Tampa Bay seemingly already has more interest in the Rowdies a second division team than they did in the Mutiny, an MLS one. That is all about the name. But seriously, do you want people’s memories of the Tampa Bay Rowdies to be 40,000 at Tampa Stadium watching world class players or 3,500 at USF or Land O’Lakes Park watching MLS castoffs (which is saying alot because MLS itself is borderline unwatchable) and glorified semi professional players?

        Think about it……

        • Roger says:

          I am not from Tampa, so I cannot comment on the specifics.

          But we are trying to promote soccer in some markets with what is familiar and revered. Protecting a legacy is one thing, but it is not worthwhile if these cities lose soccer altogether because of USL’s incompetence.

          • In Tampa nostalgia for the Rowdies runs VERY high. Whether we like it or not, ERT 145, The new Rowdies have marketed themselves as a successor to the old Rowdies, who yes averaged over 30,000 at times. Like it or not, it is being done. Whether it trashes the legacy or not, it’s happening. Better to embrace it IMHO, than to say “it’s not the real Rowdies or NASL” and let it fail.

  15. I don’t think this will cheapen it.

    As far the debate on whether the NASL was a success or failure goes, it was both. In many ways it made soccer viable in this country, and in many ways it was a spectacular failure.

    These are among the top cities in North America for soccer. Atlanta has it’s own stadium — as oppose to playing in that hellhole that was around in the NASL days — Baltimore is getting one, and Cary has one. Of course, Cary is just a commuter town, but most assume the team represents Raleigh anyway. Then you have St. Louis, the heart of American soccer, playing out of a soccer stadium if they get up and running. Fort Lauderdale — and they’d be smart to switch to Fort Lauderdale fulltime — has a soccer stadium, if it doesn’t end up getting torn down anyway. Then Tampa is planning on building one.

    It’s on solid footing, so it might not end up being a complete disaster. Though they need to get Minnesota sorted out FAST.

  16. dan says:

    Wow i think im the only one who liked Fusion and Mutiny, Hell i even like the Dallas Burn.

  17. Ron says:

    What is MLS’s stance on all of this? I think the new league should align with the MLS and creat a “relegation and promotion” type tier system.

  18. dan says:

    nah i dont see why we need regulation promotion, but i can see an MLS 2 starting where the league can test future markets as it continues to grow.

  19. dan says:

    the TOA should look into contacting these five ownership groups that are looking to join the mls but probably wont make it in for a while, With MLS planning on stopping at 20 til 2020.
    New York
    San Antonio
    Also keep open the Idea to let other USL clubs join the TOA if they choose to jump ship.

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