Hello again! Welcome back to SmallScale Arguments. Each edition of this series takes a piece of local US soccer news and presents a platform to converse about the issues surrounding that news item. Today is volume two, and it’s a bit more straightforward than last time. Last week’s topic of Boston City FC’s distress over the addition of a rival club down the road got into all sorts of touchy topics, but today’s will prompt a more simple decision.
We’re transitioning from the NPSL to NISA, and much like a parental figure with their young child, we’ve returned only to realize that during the short time in which we turned our attention away, something has gone wrong.
Namely, that something is a club. Philadelphia Fury, one of the founding clubs of NISA and originally a participant in this Fall’s NISA Showcase, has now backed out of the league for the rest of the season. They only played one match of the Showcase before leaving, and that match was a humbling (and telling) 8-1 defeat against Miami FC. That result will still count in the standings, but every other match the Fury were scheduled for will result in a 3-0 win for the opposing team, effectively meaning they’re forfeiting the rest of their matches. But listen to this reasoning for the dropping of Philadelphia according to NISA:
The club [Philadelphia Fury] will be suspended from this fall due to a reversal from one of their main investors.Official Release by NISA on Twitter
The cited reason by NISA for Philly’s departure is an investor pulling out from his/her financial backing of the club. The question to answer is, what’s to blame for that unnamed investor’s choice to leave? Many have their own speculations and have been voicing them on social media. Ideas range from a perceived lack of quality in the team (which makes sense, given a 8-1 loss, but doesn’t feel like enough to pull out from an investment) to a lack of sufficient funds even before the investor left. Either way, it seems as though there was a disfunctional system in place at the club, and that situation has only grown worse with this news.
Aside from the financial struggles this creates, there’s the bad PR that comes along with backing out of a league so quickly. Will this be a permanent bad look for the Fury, or will they come back fully-funded, rejuvenated, and most importantly, with a level of quality that’s up to the standard of NISA?
That’s all left to be determined in the Spring, but until then, the foundational question here that runs deeper than Philly’s situation is for NISA itself to answer. Does it have enough of a hold on its niche market of clubs to stay strong in the third division of US Soccer? Those who oppose MLS and USL’s strongly-gripped closed system are counting on it, and a lot of local lower-league soccer clubs are as well.
Let me know in the comment section and on SmallWorld Social how you feel about the Fury’s exit and how NISA may have to respond to keep growing and protect itself from a domino effect.
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