Over the past two decades, my deep engagement with America through various business endeavors laid the foundation for what would eventually become my mission with the National Soccer League (NSL).
In 2020, my journey took an unexpected turn when I entered the realm of American soccer as a dealmaker, tasked with attracting investment into its burgeoning ecosystem. Immersing myself in the rich tapestry of USA’s professional soccer history spanning over a century, I realized the immense potential within a market boasting nearly 100 million passionate fans.
As I unraveled the layers of the industry, I grappled with the unfamiliar sports franchise model. Seeking guidance, I consulted a friend who owned a similar franchise-based club in Australia, gaining insights into this distinctive structure. Leveraging my extensive network, I presented American soccer as a potential expansion to the world’s largest sports market. Collaborating with top leagues, I orchestrated new expansions and crafted deals that intertwined investors and capital houses, laying the groundwork for building up for much needed investment in American domestic professional soccer.
My involvement extended beyond negotiations, reaching into local city hall management to explore potential city contributions for new stadiums and land, injecting excitement into the prospects of American soccer. Soccer’s widespread appeal served as an advantage, but I couldn’t overlook the glaring issues within the existing flawed US Soccer pro league standards. The exclusivity of franchise territories disrupted local rivalries, and the closed system led to a lackluster product, devoid of the excitement generated by relegation and promotion. Modest gates, a restrictive pay-to-play model, poor media deals, and a hugely inflated franchise fee system raised massive concerns about the sport’s true potential in the American market.
Soccer, a global juggernaut, transcends boundaries, a creation fueled by myriad communities. It emerged from the fervent loyalty of the working class, the blue-collar devotees who religiously follow their teams. The heartbeat of soccer resonates most profoundly within immigrant households, where it holds sway. However, the landscape of American soccer is shifting, with a regrettable turn towards exclusivity through a pay-to-play model demanding exorbitant sums. The result is an elitist system, marked by overpriced franchises, contributing to the rampant commercialization of tickets and retail, a departure from soccer’s essence. Soccer should defy barriers.
My unease grew when I confronted the closed league’s designation as the first Division One league in America. I questioned the monopolistic tendencies and their relationship with the US soccer federation, only to receive an unhelpful and arrogant response: “This is what we have always done. If you don’t like it, maybe you should do something yourself if you can find the money.” That dismissive retort served as the spark that ignited the creation of a new soccer industry. Drawing on my licensing experience, I envisioned a novel model inspired by successful tour-based structures in golf, MMA, and professional wrestling.
The rise of premier league lacrosse and the USFL and XFL underscored the potential of seizing proper stadiums during the winter/spring, setting the stage for a groundbreaking venture. To attract investment, The NSL would offer teams under a licensing model, empowering operators to take charge of the clubs while ensuring a protective framework. This turnkey solution aimed to streamline operations for investors keen on club ownership without the huge commitment to a humungous franchise fee. The most recent fee commanded was $500 million dollars and even minor league new expansions are demanding $20 million dollars. While the original clubs are slated to hit the market in the first half of the year, my optimistic vision targets an early 2025 NSL launch. However, with realism prevailing, the official launch is more likely to coincide with the World Cup finals in 2026, a moment when soccer will capture the mainstream spotlight, drawing immense interest. My mission: to forge a new industry, untethered from FIFA’s grip, designed to champion the game’s truest interests and elevate American soccer to its zenith.