Ironically, while supporters were walking out in southern Florida, supporters club leaders from all around the league (including myself representing the RailHawks' supporters) were gathered in Atlanta discussing many of these issues with NASL CEO Bill Peterson and COO Bill Melekian. Many of the topics Neil mentions in this piece were on the table in Atlanta. In particular, I've put down some notes from the security discussion that is directly relevant to the protest detailed here:
I actually like where the league is headed and the guiding principles they are using. A balanced schedule, a single table, and respect for the international calendar are all things soccer supporters in this country have been asking for since MLS started. kudos to NASL for staying true to those principles and trying to find a short term (one season) plan that is workable with an eye towards their vision. I think the criticism they deserve is on the PR side. They should have anticipated the confusion of fans and announced this format alongside a thorough interview with press so the rationale, and not just the result, were both publicized at the same time.
David, I agree there is precedent for split seasons, but what sets NASL apart from the Mexican Primera is that there aren't any "pay for play" or $500 a game type contracts in the big Latin American divisions. I would only see this as an issue for leagues such as D2/D3 in USA that have a number of players that are already on year-to-year contracts...now they will be on half-season to half-season. Good for the team, bad for the player.
Another thought on this...will team's be able to sign players to "half-year" contracts (will FIFA allow this?). I hope this doesn't have a negative impact on the employment status of soccer players in this country. I tend to agree with Neil that a neutral site would be hard to pull off, but it is something to look forward to. If one team is going to get to host, it's disappointing that they didn't go to a two-leg final.
This is terribly exciting. Personally would love to see a 2 month summer break but understand the need to keep the start/end dates more conservative for northern teams. Putting emphasis on the regular season table placement is awesome. Assuming the Soccer Bowl will become an annual event like MLS Cup at a neutral site, this is a cool innovation for NASL.
Galaxy Cinema in Cary will be showing the match on their big screen. Hibernian Pub in Raleigh is co-hosting a match watching party with the Carolina RailHawks. The London Bridge Pub in Raleigh will be packed as it has been for every other match.
Speaking of coaches working their way up from the youth ranks to professional, I'd love to see Dewan Bader get a shot at the RailHawks head coaching job when Martin leaves.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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