Each time we discuss American soccer one topic that keeps on invading the discussion is about the promotion and relegation in MLS. It makes MLS the only top division professional soccer leagues that do not have the rule of relegation. The main objective of this rule is to bring the best out of each team. But that might not be fruitful in American Soccer.
Why Relegation system should not be implemented right now?
The journey of Major League Soccer began around 24 years back and most of us are unaware of this fact. The journey started with 10 teams back in 1996. The slow and planned structure has now 24 teams competing in the league. But the governing body of U.S. soccer doesn’t feel reluctant to apply the relegation rule because of the amount of money involved in MLS and also implementing the rule doesn’t assure in the up-gradation of quality in football in the US. With every passing year new teams with the huge budget are entering into the top division football of the US, but implementing this rule might divert them from investing in football, for example, Los Angeles FC in 2018, Cincinnati FC in 2019.
It might seem a bit funny but this a serious matter of concern that why it is not possible to implement promotion and relegation in MLS ie US Soccer. It is easy for other teams in English Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A as the 2nd division teams have their own and independent entity but here a single entity owns many teams mostly 1 from the top division and other from MLB, USL, and so on. For example, North Texas SC is a reserve team of FC Dallas.
It is still a very early stage for starting the rule of promotion and relegation in MLS as the 2nd and 3rd Division leagues are still growing. Moreover, the owners of MLS teams come with power and money and would not want to miss out on MLS football at any cost so the US Soccer Federation doesn’t want to rush with this. On the other hand, lower division sides like Kingston Stockade and Miami FC made a filing to the Court of Arbitration(CAS) and asked a favor from FIFA for enforcing their laws of implementing the rule of relegation and promotion in MLS. The case is pending right now and the lower division teams are not so hopeful about it.
FIFA’s Rule Of Implementing Promotion/Relegation (Article Nine)
The CAS case filled against the USSF and FIFA by Miami FC and Kingston Stockade regarding FIFA’s Article nine that deals with relegation and promotion rule have been declared. The court has given its verdict that “while the wording of Article nine could be understood as rendering that provision to be universally applicable, FIFA didn’t intend for the rule to apply to U.S. Soccer.” FIFA’s article nine states,
A club’s entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit
referring to promotion and relegation but also stating that other criteria may also apply. The CAS ruled in favor of the respondents, effectively declaring that FIFA was free to enforce its decisions at its own discretion and that the exemption granted to the US and Australia could continue. The closed structure league of MLS does not need promotion/relegation right now because here teams enter the league by invitation from the organizing board and the entry fee is near about $300 million.
Possibility of Implementing the Rule of promotion and relegation in MLS
The MLS now consists of 26 teams and seems that it could lead to 28 teams very soon. USSF has not set any rule of team limit so it is likely that more teams might join the league and it might happen that league size gets so big that MLS has to break off into tiered leagues but that would also take some time.
Another important aspect that needs to be kept in mind that the lower division teams have to increase their budget and investments to compete with the top tier teams. Though it is debatable, still the lower division teams believe if the promotion system comes into action the newly promoted teams will attract sponsors and investors and would lead to the development of American soccer. But still, in the near future, it doesn’t look like the rule is going to get introduced into the MLS.
What is your opinion about implementation of promotion and relegation in MLS? Let us know in the comments section below!