Timeline: How did NASL-USSF dispute come to this?

(This WILL be revised and updated. Suggestions welcome.)

I’ve read many of the court filings in the NASL-USSF lawsuit and U.S. Soccer Board of Directors minutes dating back to 2011. A few other sources are mentioned here and there.

So here’s a timeline of what I was able to reconstruct, plus a few explainers:

WHO’S WHO:

Sunil Gulati: Seriously? Google. USSF president since 2006, VP for six years before that, former Kraft Soccer (New England Revolution) employee, one of the founders of Major League Soccer but dismissed by original commissioner Doug Logan.

Dan Flynn: USSF CEO/Secretary General. Basically, top paid employee on the org chart. Had a heart transplant in April 2016.

Carlos Cordeiro: Retired from Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s. Elected as an independent director (someone not affiliated with youth, adult or pro) to the USSF Board of Directors in 2007, then unseated Mike Edwards to become vice president in 2016.

Linda Cardenas: Executive assistant at USSF since 2011.

Mike Edwards: Long-serving USSF vice president (replaced Gulati when he became president in until election loss in 2016.

John Motta: Former USSF vice president (defeated Gulati in 1998, then lost rematch in 2000). Adult Council rep to USSF Board since 2013. President of U.S. Adult Soccer, which governs soccer in the USA that is neither youth nor pro. (Though a few pro teams play in USASA-affiliated leagues.)

Alec Papadakis: USL CEO since 2009. Pro Council rep to USSF Board in 2015 and 2016.

Aaron Davidson: Former chairman of NASL and former president of Traffic Sports. Pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire-fraud conspiracy charges in October 2016.

Bill Peterson: NASL commissioner from 2012 to January 2017. One of the key figures in repositioning NASL as unlikely standard-bearer of traditional soccer, including promotion/relegation (though never making concrete proposal), and insisting upon NASL’s Division I ambitions.

Rishi Sehgal: NASL executive now serving as interim commissioner.

Jeffrey Kessler: High-powered sports lawyer who has been very successful in landmark cases in other sports. In soccer, he represented the U.S. women for a short period in their labor dispute with the USSF and unsuccessfully led MLS players in lawsuit challenging league’s single-entity model from 1997 to 2002.

Mark Frisch: Former Jacksonville Armada (NASL) owner

Brian Helmick: San Francisco Deltas (NASL) CEO

Rocco Commisso: Bought New York Cosmos in early 2017. Had promising relationship with Gulati (both tied to Columbia University) but is now leading figure in several actions against USSF.

WHAT’S WHAT:

BOD: U.S. Soccer Board of Directors

D1, D2, D3: Division I, Division II and Division III

PLS: Pro League Standards, developed and administered by U.S. Soccer, voted on by BOD (those affected generally recuse themselves from vote). See the 2014 (current) version; a 2015 draft revision was not approved.

PLS Task Force: Meets to discuss PLS. Current composition.

Pro League Task Force: Examines each pro league and recommends to the BOD whether or not to renew their annual sanctions as D1, D2, D3. The BOD doesn’t always take their recommendations. Current composition.

USSF D2: A stopgap league in 2010, when teams were splitting from the USL and forming NASL.

Traffic Sports: Marketing firm that once ran four NASL teams and was later at epicenter of FIFA/CONCACAF investigation. See Aaron Davidson.

CITATIONS

Gulati Dec: Sunil Gulati’s declaration in support of U.S. Soccer’s reply to NASL lawsuit. This is cited a lot because so much of it establishes a timeline.

Ex (1, 2, 3 …): Exhibits from U.S. Soccer’s reply. Some of these are also in the NASL’s filing and are noted as such.

BOD Minutes: U.S. Soccer Board of Directors Minutes

TIMELINE

Pre-history: In 1993, the USSF awarded Division I sanctioning to the group that devised Major League Soccer. That group includes then-USSF president Alan Rothenberg, who was elected with the mandate of solidifying the USA’s 1994 World Cup organizing efforts and forming a Division I league. The vote was not unanimous — MLS got 18 votes, the existing second-division APSL got five, the rule-changing League One America got zero.

In 1995, the USSF came up with a set of Professional League Standards that would remain in place until 2008.

The APSL remained Division II and eventually merged with the USISL, a fast-expanding league that operated two tiers of pro soccer (D2 and D3) along with an amateur league now called the PDL. The USISL later simplified its name to the USL. The league briefly experiments with promotion and relegation but backed away because more teams were “self-relegating” for economic reasons. Founder Francisco Marcos sells shares in the league to Umbro, which ends up with 94% of the league before Umbro itself is sold to Nike, which inherits ownership of the league in early 2008.

Full histories of the USISL/USL: Philly Soccer Page, Inside MN Soccer.

2008

Sept. 24, 2008 – BOD Minutes: BOD approves new PLS.

Throughout 2008 – The Team Owners Association (TOA) forms among several disgruntled team owners in the USL. The leaders include Aaron Davidson (Miami FC and Traffic Sports) and Jeff Cooper, a St. Louis attorney who had been trying to bring MLS to St. Louis, was on the board at English club Brentford and was launching St. Louis Athletica in Women’s Professional Soccer.

2009

Aug. 27, 2009 – (See sources above): Nike sells the USL to NuRock Soccer Holdings, led by Rob Hoskins and Alec Papadakis. The move is a shocker — the league had seemed all but sold to Cooper.

Nov. 10, 2009 – Goal.com report: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, a not-yet-playing St. Louis team and Vancouver Whitecaps announce plans to split from USL. The new league applies for D2 status.

Nov. 21, 2009 – BOD Minutes: Nothing is mentioned about the league split, though the BOD did have an executive session. MLS’ D1 status is renewed, WPS’ women’s D1 status is renewed with conditions, and the BOD hears updates on the Major Indoor Soccer League (not yet part of USL), USL1 (D2) and USL2 (D3).

2010

Jan. 8, 2010 – Soccer America: With neither the NASL or the remaining USL clubs convincing USSF to award them D2 status, the Federation takes the unusual step of running its own league, brokering a one-year deal to take the nine NASL-leaning clubs and three USL-leaning clubs into the short-lived-by-design USSF D2 league. The breakaway teams have already seen some changes — Atlanta is on hiatus, Minnesota is under new management, and FC Tampa Bay and Crystal Palace Baltimore have joined in.

Feb. 5, 2010 – BOD Minutes: USSF update on plans for the USSF D2 league AND plans to appoint a blue-ribbon panel to review the PLS. The plan: In May through July, visit teams to make sure they’re meeting D2 minimum standards AND publish new standards. At August BOD meeting, evaluate new applicants for D2.

May 20, 2010 – Brian Quarstad (IMS): Crystal Palace Baltimore in deep trouble. St. Louis, with former NASL interim commissioner Jeff Cooper at the helm, in deeper.

May 27, 2010 – Soccer America: Saint Louis Athletica, sister team to AC St. Louis, folds midseason, sending players like Hope Solo and Shannon Boxx into a dispersal draft.

Aug. 10, 2010: BOD Minutes: “President Gulati updated the Board on a meeting with all of the D2 team owners and the proposal to change the D2 Professional League Standards. President Gulati informed the Board that the proposed D2 Professional League Standards had been proposed by the Blue Ribbon Professional League Standards Task Force and that the proposed standards had been reviewed with the D2 owners. It was MOVED to adopt the revised D2 Professional League Standards. The motion PASSED.”

See the standards. At the time, I thought they were designed to keep anyone from playing D2. But the NASL embraced them.

Nov. 21, 2010: BOD Minutes: MLS renewed as D1, WPS renewed as D1 with conditions. USL PRO accepted as D3. NASL not mentioned (executive session?) but received provisional D2 sanction. (See Brian Quarstad story below — Jan. 25.)

2011

Jan. 19, 2011 – St. Louis Post Dispatch: AC St. Louis officially folds.

Jan. 20, 2011 – NASL statement: USSF BOD withdraws provisional D2 sanctioning because of failures to comply with standards. Losing St. Louis probably didn’t help. (No minutes posted for BOD meeting, which likely means entire meeting was executive session.)

Jan. 25, 2011 – Ex 13: Brian Quarstad (IMSoccer News) talks with Aaron Davidson after USSF withdrew D2 sanction (for now.)

February 2011 – Ex 14: NASL D2 application.

Feb. 11, 2011 – BOD Minutes: USL Pro gets a waiver because four of its 15 teams will be outside USA. No mention of NASL, but see next day.

Feb. 12, 2011 – Brian Quarstad confirms: NASL gets provisional D2 sanctioning for 2011.

March 28, 2011 – David Downs, an industry veteran with ABC, Univision and the USA World Cup Bid Committee, named NASL commissioner. (Aaron Davidson is CEO.)

April 2011 – NASL begins first season as an independent D2 league. Continuing from USSF D2: Carolina RailHawks, NSC Minnesota Stars, Fort Lauderdale Strikers (formerly Miami FC), Montreal Impact, Puerto Rico Islanders, FC Tampa Bay. New: FC Edmonton. Returning from one-year hiatus: Atlanta Silverbacks. Gone: Austin Aztex (moved to Orlando), Vancouver Whitecaps (moved to MLS along with fellow D2 club Portland Timbers), Crystal Palace Baltimore, AC St. Louis.

2012

March 3, 2012 – Brian Quarstad: NASL gets full Division II sanctioning at USSF Annual General Meeting. Only one change for 2012 season: Montreal moves to MLS, replaced by San Antonio Scorpions. Minnesota is renamed Minnesota United. FC Tampa Bay reclaims the Rowdies name.

June 10, 2012 – Neil Morris (2015 story, WRAL Sports Fan): With half its clubs either owned by Traffic Sports or propped up by the league, Downs and NASL owners sit down for a meeting with MLS officials, with whom they had been negotiating for months for an affiliation partnership. NASL chairman Davidson says NASL is walking away from negotiations.

June 12, 2012 – New York Cosmos join NASL for 2013. The brand name had been dormant from 1985 until 2010, property of one Peppe Pinton. When Pinton sold the club name, it relaunched and played an exhibition game with a team of guest players. Saudi company Sela Sport bought the team in 2011 and negotiated with MLS but opted instead for the NASL.

Oct. 5, 2012 – Downs resigns as NASL commissioner.

Nov. 27, 2012 – Brian Quarstad: Bill Peterson — like MLS commissioner Don Garber, a veteran of NFL Europe and then a member of the MLS Board of Governors — officially announced as NASL commissioner.

Dec. 1, 2012 – BOD Minutes: MLS, NASL, USL all get renewals at D1/D2/D3 without incident. Minutes say MLS had “waiver,” NASL had “waivers.” USL waivers not mentioned. PLS also being reviewed because USSF is trying to launch women’s league (NWSL).

2013

Feb. 17, 2013: BOD Minutes: NASL gets waiver on number of teams for 2013 spring season only. Puerto Rico was taking a one-year hiatus, dropping the league to seven teams until the Cosmos started for the fall season.

Nov. 18, 2013 – Ex 9: Flynn memo to leagues on PLS (includes draft standards) – also NASL Ex 34.

Nov. 27, 2013 – Ex 10: NASL response to Flynn letter. Peterson’s four points are: Letters of Credit (says the dollar figure is too high), Roster Limitations (unclear what he’s asking), Reserve Leagues (seeking clarification), Pro/Rel (can we talk about it?). Gulati notes Peterson did NOT challenge time-zone standard.

Dec. 8, 2013 – BOD Minutes: Gulati says PLS Task Force has sent new draft to teams for review. Also, all four pro leagues’ sanctions renewed. MLS gets waivers on field size and coaching licenses. NWSL gets waivers on field size and stadium seating. USL gets waiver on field size. No NASL waiver mentioned.

2014

Feb. 28, 2014 – BOD Minutes: USSF Board approves new PLS. Also, BOD resolves dispute between MLS and NASL on apportionment of Pro Council votes. MLS gets 9, NWSL 3, NASL 1, USL 1. This resolution good for only one year.

April 12, 2014 – NASL season kicks off with 10 teams. Indy Eleven (with former Chicago Fire GM and USSF Board member Peter Wilt as president) and Ottawa Fury are the new teams.

December 7, 2014 – BOD Minutes: Little discussion at annual renewal — all four leagues renewed, subject to waivers. Also, Gulati asks Pro Council to meet again to discuss voting apportionment.

2015

Feb. 13, 2015 – BOD Minutes: Garber presents unspecified allocation of Pro Council votes. Board accepts.

Feb. 23, 2015 – Ex 15: Peterson letter to Gulati thanking him for meeting and expressing desire for more pub from USSF PR department, also saying he wants NASL to play at highest level

Feb. 24, 2015 – Ex 16: Gulati response – thanks Bill, talk soon

April 4, 2015 – NASL goes to 11. New season includes 10 returning teams plus Jacksonville Armada.

May 20, 2015 – Ex 20-21: USA indicts a whole lot of people, including several from Traffic (and Traffic itself). Among them: Aaron Davidson.

May 31, 2015 – Ex 17: NASL glossy presentation for D1 (BOD meeting that day, but not mentioned in minutes)

June 24, 2015 – Ex 12: Flynn memo to leagues on PLS (includes draft of 2015 standards). This is controversial one. It would’ve raised minimum number of teams at inception from 12 to 16 (D1) and 8 to 12 (D2).

July 23, 2015 – Ex 18: Kessler warning shot to Gulati, Flynn and PLS Task Force

July 27, 2015 – Ex 19: USSF counsel Lisa Levine rips Kessler but still offers to move forward and talk.

Sept. 30, 2015 – Gulati Dec: USSF meets Kessler and NASL. Much reiteration of positions. Also, USSF presses NASL on Traffic.

Oct. 29-30, 2015 – Ex 22-23: Back and forth traffic between USSF to NASL about Traffic

Oct. 30, 2015 – Ex 24: Peterson to USSF with a plan to get D1 status now and comply with D1 standards by 2026, and oh by the way, antitrust.

Nov. 6, 2015 – Ex 25: USSF to NASL – OK, we’ll call that an application for waivers, and by the way, Traffic.

Nov. 10, 2015 – Ex 26: Peterson re: Traffic — we’re on it! Really! Get off our backs! And why didn’t USSF tell us Aaron Davidson was suspended by FIFA!

Nov. 11, 2015 – Ex 27: USSF to Peterson: You needed US to tell you about Davidson?

Nov. 15, 2015 – Ex 28: Rishi Sehgal, then the NASL director of business development and legal affairs, on Traffic

Nov. 20, 2015 – Ex 29: NASL provides 2015 annual report. Requests waivers from D2 standards while also applying for D1

Nov. 23, 2015 – Ex 30: Peterson to Flynn, demanding to press D1 case to Board and Task Force

Nov. 24-Dec. 1, 2015 – Ex 31-33: Some wrangling over a USSF/NASL meeting because the threat of litigation is looming

Dec. 5, 2015 – Gulati Dec: Pro League Task Force of Cordeiro, Mike Edwards and Dan Flynn meets with NASL and counsel

Dec. 6, 2015 – BOD Minutes: All four pro leagues approved, subject to waivers.

Dec. 8, 2015 – Ex 34: Pro League Task Force to NASL: Thanks for meeting with us Dec. 5. Look, we’re still concerned about Traffic and your stadia.

Dec. 21, 2015 – Ex 35: Kessler to Pro League Task Force: Quit whining about Traffic. Footnote: Hey, you don’t want us to talk about Gulati’s relationships with Jack Warner  and everyone else, do you? Here’s your requested info about Traffic, and you’d better discuss our D1 application at the next Board meeting in January.

2016

Jan. 5, 2016 – Ex 36: Russell Sauer of Latham and Watkins to Kessler: Thanks for the info about Traffic. Where’s the rest of the league info you promised? If you want to make a presentation to the Board on Jan. 13, fine — let us know who’s coming by Jan. 7.

Jan. 13, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Board meeting. NASL states D1 case. Must be executive session, because there’s no mention of NASL on the BOD Minutes.

Jan. 15, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF asks NASL for more info

Jan. 21, 2016 – Ex 37: Rishi Sehgal on behalf of Peterson, to Flynn and everyone else: OK, we met — now can we move this along and get D1? The delay is unlawful.

Jan. 25, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF tells NASL the Board will talk about D1 application at next meeting in March

Feb. 29, 2016 – USSF Annual General Meeting, notable for independent director Carlos Cordeiro winning three-way race for VP.

March 3, 2016 – Ex 38: Peterson to Cordeiro: Congratulations! Now will you please either quit making divisional assignments or give us D1?

March 8, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF Board meets and rejects D1 status for NASL. BOD Minutes again have no mention of this, though they mention an update on USL’s application for D2 status. Also, Flynn gives update on pro futsal league.

March 9, 2016 – Ex 39: Cordeiro to Sehgal (please forward to Peterson): Thanks, but I don’t appreciate this sort of lobbying.

March 10, 2016 – Ex 40: Cardenas to Peterson: Non-recused members of the Board (non-recused) have non-recusedly agreed to non-recusedly not give your league D1 sanction, non-recusedly. USSF is still willing to help NASL get to D1 someday, non-recusedly. (Also NASL Ex 41)

April 2, 2016 – NASL kicks off spring season, still with 11 teams. San Antonio and Atlanta were out. A new Miami FC and Rayo OKC, affiliated with Spanish club Rayo Vallecano, join. Puerto Rico FC joins for the fall season to round it up to 12.

April 28, 2016 – BOD Minutes: Short teleconference with two orders of business, the second being to replace Flynn on the Pro League Task Force “because of a pending application.” Brian Remedi is named to replace him, and Cordeiro is named chair.

May 19, 2016 – BOD Minutes: Application to have Puerto Rico play NASL is approved.

July 8, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF again asks NASL about Traffic

July 13, 2016 – Ex 41: Sehgal to Levine: Still working on separating Traffic’s investment

Summer 2016 – Gulati Dec 173-174: “Contrary to the intimation in the Complaint that the USSF was looking to destroy the NASL, I expended a lot of time and energy over the balance of 2016 in an effort to save the NASL — which was beginning to fall apart. // During the summer of 2016 I had several discussion with Bill Peterson, the NASL’s Commissioner, during which he sought to engage, not on the elimination of professional league classifications or the denial of Division I status, but rather on developing a path for the NASL to come into compliance with the existing Division I standards.”

Aug. 23, 2016 – Nipun Chopra/Four Four Two and NewsOK: Rayo OKC minority owner Sean Jones removes half of the team’s artificial turf. Suffice to say things weren’t going well.

Sept. 8, 2016 – Ex. 42: Peterson emails Cordeiro and Motta, copying Gulati, asking to engage with the Pro League Task Force in connection with the USSF Board meeting scheduled for Sept. 23.

Sept. 8, 2016 – Ex. 43: Cordeiro tells Peterson the next Board agenda is quite full, but if you’ve made progress, please let us know. Peterson’s response: “So, dialogue is not an option for NASL and soccer progression in usa, clearly pass/ fail? Disappointing. Same for everyone?” Gulati is not amused.

Sept. 21, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Gulati meets with reps from MLS, NASL and USL to sort out “issues and disagreements.” Then Tampa and Ottawa jump to USL.

Sept. 22, 2016 – Ex 44: Jacksonville owner Mark Frisch seeks meeting with Gulati, who agrees. Peterson was not copied on the email.

Sept. 23, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF Board meets. Talks about USL but no decision. This isn’t mentioned in BOD Minutes — must have been executive session.

Sept. 23-24, 2016 – Ex 45: Peterson emails Gulati to say “I believe this group of NASL owners will deliver what you’re looking for. We’re a long way removed from the breakaway and Aaron Davidson days.” Gulati: “Thanks Bill. Hopefully we can find a sensible way through the current situation.”

Sept. 26, 2016 – Did Frisch and Gulati meet? Frisch said he would bring other owners.

Fall 2016 – NASL in crisis. Gulati 181-182: Some teams going to USL (D3 pushing for D2), others stopped operating due to financial losses (which, Gulati says, would likely have been worse in D1). Gulati and others push to save the NASL and explore merger with USL. Then he helped bring in Commisso.

Oct. 25, 2016 – ESPN FC: Tampa Bay and Ottawa move from NASL to USL.

Nov. 2, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Gulati meets with a group of NASL owners.

Nov. 23, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Gulati in conference call with NASL owners to discuss expansion

Nov. 30, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Gulati meets with reps from NASL and USL, possibly to do another USSF D2 league. USL declines, “but not for my lack of trying.”

November 2016 – Ex 47: NASL provides Annual Report as part of application for D2 (not D1). Gulati Dec: Gulati says they acknowledged issues in Fort Lauderdale but not in New York.

Dec. 4, 2016 – Ex. 46: USL sends term sheet to NASL clubs — actually a response to one sent by Carolina, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Miami, Puerto Rico and San Francisco.

Dec. 5, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Pro League Task Force meets to consider all leagues. USL withdraws D2 request. NASL can’t nail down number of teams posting performance bonds, so Task Force holds D2 application in abeyance

Dec. 6, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USSF Board delays NASL discussion at NASL’s request. Also tables USL’s D2 application. Again, not mentioned in BOD Minutes, which only make vague reference to updates on MLS and NWSL.

Dec. 14, 2016 – Ex. 48: USSF to NASL, asking league to provide Pro League Task Force with a list of teams participating in 2017 and confirmation that they have posted performance bond.

Dec. 14, 2016 – Brian Straus (SI): Cosmos on the verge of accepting a private investor’s offer to buy brand and shut down the club.

Dec. 15, 2016 – NASL reply: SUM bids $5 million for Cosmos brand, rights to likenesses, etc., with agreement to shut it down for at least 10 years.

Dec. 18, 2016 – Ex. 49: NASL says they have six. Maybe nine. And more than six talking for 2018!
– Gulati Dec: NASL asked for extension of Dec. 19 deadline to provide info; USSF pushes back to Dec. 28

Dec. 28, 2016 – Ex. 50: Helmick (SF Deltas) texts with Gulati and suggests collaborating and combining schedule with USL.

Dec. 28, 2016 – Ex. 51: NASL responds to inquiry. They have eight teams, including league-owned Jacksonville (what happened to Frisch?) and the Cosmos. Many waivers needed. (Gulati Dec also notes news reports saying Peterson likely out as commissioner.)

Dec. 29, 2016 – Gulati Dec: Pro League Task Force conference call. Gulati listens but doesn’t participate. Task Force tentatively decides not to recommend NASL for D2 for 2017.

Dec. 29, 2016 – Gulati Dec: USL files revised D2 application.

2017

Dec. 30, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 – Gulati Dec: Bunch of Pro League Task Force conference calls. Dec. 30 just USL, and Task Force tentatively decides not to recommend USL for D2. But then separate conference calls with both USL and NASL on the 31st. Gulati again listens in but doesn’t participate, as he also does Jan. 1, when the Task Force again recommends against D2 for either league.

Jan. 2, 2017 – Ex. 52: Gulati emails only the non-conflicted members of the Board (NOT Garber, Papadakis, Collins or Agoos, BUT Mattsson, Dr. Bob, Cordeiro, Ahrens, Cone, Flynn, Nunez, Harrell, Motta, Turney, Shalala) to tell them Task Force has unanimously recommended against D2 but reminding them it’s the Board’s call. Board meeting set for Jan. 6; meanwhile, Gulati and Flynn will keep working with leagues toward “our goal of promoting — in a stable way — the professional development of the sport below Division 1.”

Jan. 3, 2017 – Ex. 53: NASL (Sehgal) confirms it has finally terminated all relationships with Traffic.

Jan. 4, 2017 – Gulati Dec: NASL reps meet Gulati in NYC (some by phone). “(T)he NASL owners focused their energies on trying to convince me that, absent a Division II sanction, the league would disappear which would be bad for the sport.”

Jan. 5, 2017 – Gulati Dec: USL’s Papadakis meets (whom? Gulati?).

Jan. 6, 2017 – Gulati Dec: Pivotal Board meeting. Commisso, Brian Helmick (San Francisco Deltas), Steve Malik (North Carolina), Riccardo Silva (Miami) and others join call. Helmick, Gulati says, began presentation by saying Gulati has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in trying to save the league. Then the vote in favor of D2 for USL and NASL, despite Task Force recommendation
– NASL has a separate exhibit (Ex 46)

Jan. 18, 2017 – Ex 54: USSF (Flynn) to NASL (Sehgal) reiterating what was discussed Jan. 13 — conditions under which NASL has received its D2, including a plan for moving forward, due March 15. (It does NOT include what Gulati Dec mentions from Board meeting, which is the requirement to meet D2 standards in 2018 unless specifically agreed to by USSF.)

Feb. 9, 2017 – BOD Minutes: Nothing mentioned on pro leagues aside from USL application for Canadian team (Ottawa) approved.

March 3, 2017 – BOD Minutes: Nothing on pro leagues other than NWSL describing A&E deal

March 25, 2017 – NASL season starts with eight teams. San Francisco is new. Minnesota is in MLS. Tampa Bay and Ottawa are in USL. Fort Lauderdale and Rayo OKC are gone.

June 8, 2017 – BOD Minutes: Again, nothing on pro leagues, though new committee assignments were approved in accordance with new bylaws requiring 3-5 people per committee.

July 26, 2017 – BOD Minutes: “Mr. Ahrens inquired as to the status of professional league standards review for the year and Mr. Gulati provided an update.”

Sometime in 2017 – Gulati Dec: USSF retains consultant Jeff L’Hote to verify info on USL and NASL meeting D2 standards.

Aug. 15, 2017 – Ex 55: Sehgal to USSF, application for 2018 divisional status. Notes two teams expected to be out (Edmonton, San Francisco), but the two California teams make it eight.
– Gulati Dec: USL’s application includes waivers for individual teams but NOT for the league as a whole — “Even if it dropped the teams needing waivers, it would still have more than enough teams to satisfy all Division II standards.”
– Also NASL Ex 49

Aug. 24, 2017 – Gulati Dec: Gulati and a staff member mediate dispute between NASL and ex-teams Tampa Bay and Ottawa.

Sept. 1, 2017 – Gulati Dec: Board meeting, with Board members currently affiliated with one of the professional leagues out of the room (so that’s Garber, Bocanegra?, Malik?). Sehgal says league is “reformulating a strategic plan.” Gulati’s words: “In other words, the NASL was working on a plan, but did not yet have one even though that was one of the conditions of the provisional Division II grant in January.”

Also of interest from Sept. 1 (Gulati Dec): “Mr. Commisso raised an issue of inter-league poaching (the USL recruiting teams from the NASL). In requesting the USSF’s assistance, and in direct contradiction to the NASL’s claims now, Mr. Commisso stated “We think you have the authority to change how each league operates, okay.”

Sept. 3, 2017: Ex 56: Flynn to Sehgal, confirming Board’s vote not to give NASL a 2018 D2 sanction (NASL neither met the standards nor had a definitive plan for getting there) but inviting league to reapply for D3 by Oct. 2. (Also Ex 57: Flynn to USL’s Papadakis saying Board has delayed decision on USL’s D2 application until Oct. 2, asking league to present plan for reducing the number of team waivers, currently 21 — presumably not 21 teams but 21 waivers)
– NASL has Flynn letter as Ex 50

NASL motion describes it as such: “On September 3, 2017, the anticompetitive plan was carried out. The USSF informed the NASL that it was being denied Division II status for the 2018 season, and that if it wanted to continue to play as a USSF-sanctioned league, it would have to apply for status as a Division III league. In contrast, the USSF has given USL a month to provide additional assurances to the USSF so it can obtain provisional sanctioning as the sole Division II league in 2018. While USL would have to receive a number of waivers from the Division II Professional League Standards to receive a Division II sanction—possibly as many as twenty—the NASL was denied the mere two waivers that it requested. There was thus no doubt that the transparent motive for the USSF’s actions was to eliminate the NASL as a viable competitor.”

Sept. 19, 2017: We go to court

Oct. 6-8, 2017: Ex 57: Email (no true copy presented) to Commisso and Sehgal offering to ask Board to reconsider D2 if it can demonstrate by Oct. 20 that it has eight economically viable, separately owned teams and provide by Nov. 20 a plan for getting to 12 by 2020. Commisso basically says, “Not interested in talking unless it’s part of a confidential settlement communication. Gulati responds by playing the Columbia card: “If you’d rather send me another email drafted by your lawyers, that’s up to you. If on the other hand, you want to see if two guys who love Columbia and the sport can address the NASL’s current needs, then I’m willing.”

OTHER USSF EXHIBITS

Exhibit 1: Minutes of first USSF (USAFA) meeting: April 15, 1913
Ex 2: First articles of incorporation of USSF (USAFA), 1914
Ex 3: FIFA Rules on Amateurism and Professionalism, 1924 (included to demonstrate FIFA mandate that federation should govern both)
Ex 4: FIFA statutes, 1958
Ex 5: FIFA statutes, 2016
Ex 6: USSF bylaws, 2017
Ex 7: U.S. Olympic Committee bylaws, 2017
Ex 8: Pro League Standards, 1995
Ex 11: PLS, 2014
Ex 58: FIFA statement, 2008 (presented to show Statute 9 isn’t addressing closed leagues)
Ex 60: PLS, 2008
Ex 61: PLS, 2010
Ex 62: Chart summarizing PLS changes from 1995 to 2014

 

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