August 31, 2009 Following extensive negotiations with USISL, Inc., the parent company of the United Soccer Leagues (USL), to restructure the USL First Division (USL-1) into a league owned and controlled by its teams, the Team Owners Association (TOA) today announced that it has accelerated its pursuit of all league options for the 2010 season and beyond. The TOA, led by the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis Soccer United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Vancouver Whitecaps, reached this decision following the announcement by Nike, Inc., the parent company of USISL, Inc., that it had concluded the sale of USL to a third-party (NuRock Soccer Holdings) which does not own a team in USL-1.
The TOA has been and remains committed to a restructuring of USL-1 into a truly professional soccer league which complies with the international rules established by FIFA, the governing body of international soccer. These rules include the requirement that the league be owned and controlled by its teams. Despite this rule, USL has historically been owned by a single corporate entity responsible for, among other things, league governance. The TOA believes that this ownership structure has stunted the growth and recognition of both the league and its teams during USL’s nearly 25-year existence. Consequently, over the past several years, the TOA has engaged in discussions with the owners of USL to restructure USL and is therefore extremely disappointed with Nike’s decision to sell USL to a non-USL-1 team owner. Accordingly, the TOA now reconfirms its commitment to achieving a team-owner controlled league and will pursue all avenues to do so.
“The TOA and its teams thank the fans, media, coaches and players for their unconditional support and patience as we explore all options for the future,” stated Selby Wellman, majority owner of the Carolina RailHawks and spokesperson for the TOA. “The teams are confident that this process will lead to decisions and changes that are essential for the further growth of soccer in our respective markets and throughout North America.”