When the news broke last week that plans were actively being implemented to start a new indoor league, including taking an as yet unknown number of current MASL teams, our initial reaction was that of many of the fans, “WTF?”
Now, a couple days later, our reaction remains, but with the added question, “Seriously? There’s no common ground that can be reached that keeps indoor soccer united?”
Setting legalities and risk management aside for a minute (though not at all denying their extreme importance), there is no situation that we can conceive of in which this path is good for the sport.
Two leagues will not grow the indoor game.
This situation will damage indoor soccer and erase what gains were made last season when the PASL and MISL merged. The intrinsic uncertainty will further damage many team’s financial situations, destroy an already tenuous confidence from the sport’s fans, and make it even less likely that professional indoor soccer will be recognized and respected by “other” fans, sponsors and local, regional and national media.
Having spoken with owners on both sides of this issue, we find it mind-numblingly frustrating that common ground cannot be reached and that a solution, that doesn’t require tearing apart a unified league, cannot be found.
There has been much made about the current structure of the MASL being “illegal” (or at least “ill-advised” from a risk management perspective). We are not attorneys or owners of sports teams, so we can’t comment on the magnitude of such concerns. However, we have never heard, nor can we understand how there is no form of restructuring that could have (or even still could) occur that would address the concerns regarding legalities.
If the legal structure of the MASL truly is the reason that indoor soccer looks increasingly likely to be ripped apart, it begs the question, “Why did the ‘restructuring’ conversations break down?” Surely, this was discussed, at the very least, in the Owner’s Meeting this year?
We cannot believe for one second that an issue, with consequences this severe, wasn’t previously discussed!
So, what happened?
What was or is the obstacle that loomed so large and was so insurmountable, that this doomsday scenario was the only remaining viable option?
The players, fans and sponsors of this game deserve an answer.
While we are not ignorant and know there are other issues beneath the surface that need to be addressed and agreed upon by the ownership, we have yet to publicly hear anything other than the “legal” structure of the league being the reason for this drastic step.
The MASL certainly had many problems over the past season and desperately needed to make some important changes for the good of the game in the upcoming year. That’s why we were so excited by some of the changes that came out of this year’s owner’s meeting. You addressed some of the biggest “black eye’s” (i.e. unified scoring, play-off structure, league leadership) and took very positive steps for the sport.
Sadly, that excitement was short lived.
But, you still have the opportunity to continue the progress you made.
Therefore we ask you, MASL owners and leadership, to PLEASE stop this insanity. Reverse course and continue making progress! Nobody, not a single person, owner, player or fan that we have spoken with wants or wanted this to be the outcome. Please un-draw the lines in the sand. Set immaterial differences aside. Don’t destroy what progress you have already made. We beg you to get back in a room together and find a solution that grows the game.
Your fans deserve it.
Your players deserve it.
Your sponsors deserve it.
YOUR sport deserves it too.