On August 30th, the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) announced that eight bids have been submitted to join the league for its proposed inaugural 2018 season. Ownership groups in Charlotte, Chattanooga, Connecticut, Miami, Milwaukee, Omaha, Phoenix, and St. Louis submitted bids for teams. Charlotte, Miami, Phoenix and St. Louis are all currently home to United Soccer League (USL) or North American Soccer League (NASL) teams.
NISA was created as the third division of U.S. professional soccer and expects to have 8-10 teams in its first season. The league eventually intends on instituting promotion and relegation in conjunction with an independent second and fourth division league. In a press release, NISA states that it has letters of intent from 15 different markets and has had discussions with owners from a total of 45 markets. Seven of the letters of intent are from ownership groups that would like to join in 2019. Expansion will be capped at a maximum of 24 teams by 2021. It is unclear whether the NISA will institute a salary cap.
The league’s website states that “first year teams will have financial incentives that will more than offset any additional travel expenses caused by spread out markets. When NISA fully populates at 24 teams, it will have two conferences, each with two divisions so that clubs are grouped regionally to enhance rivalries and minimize travel expenses.”
NISA is co-founded by Peter Wilt and Jack Cummins. Wilt has been involved in American soccer for many years. He served as Chicago Fire’s first president and general manager. More recently, he was president of NASL Side Indy Eleven from 2014 to 2016. According to the Chicago NASL website, Jack Cummins “is an experienced entrepreneur and attorney who develops intellectual property driven companies in sports, entertainment, social media, and IT.” Cummins, and Wilt are both involved in trying to establish an NASL team in Chicago. Additionally, both were former owners of the Chicago Red Stars when they were in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS).
The USL plans to launch its own separate third division in 2019. NISA emphasizes that it will be independently owned and governed by team owners, unlike the USL third division. On September 1st, NISA and its teams will make a presentation to the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. The league will seek sanctioning from U.S. Soccer, as the third division, before launching in the spring.
Are you excited for NISA to launch? Do you think it’s viable in the long term?