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A-League and USISL Finally Merge

From A-League Commissioner Richard Groff
(posted to the na-soccer list):

Sorry that I have been so busy to inform this list of the expanded A-league. The negotiations were final 45 min before the press conference. The ten A-league teams are very pleased. The 24 owners will decide all rules related to the competition and policies related to the schedule. Only 14 top level USISL select teams will move up. Team owners will own a franchise territory that can be transferred and will manage their own players. Most importantly there will be revenue sharing of TV, sponsorship,licensing, and promotion income. The A-league will be in 24 top markets with a potential of 2,000,000 fans.

From Brad Pursel, A-League:

The A-League announced on Thursday an agreement to combine ten A-League teams with fourteen USISL Select teams to form a 24-team North American soccer league in 1997.

"The formation of the 24-team A-League will bring professional soccer in the United States and Canada to a new level," said A-League Commissioner Richard Groff.

"Our mission is to attract 2,000,000 fans and grow the sport of soccer in North America," Groff explained. "Expanding the A-League to include the best fourteen teams from the USISL will strengthen the entire professional soccer industry in the United States and Canada."

The A-League schedule and competition policies will be guided by the twenty-four member owners commission, lead by a seven member owners executive committee. The A-League's current television broadcast partner, Prime Sports Network, will continue to broadcast 24 live A-League matches of the week on Friday evenings during the 1997 season.

Umbro (North America), who is a corporate partner of both the A-League and the USISL, will continue their critical support and provide sophisticated marketing experience to the expanded A-League.

From David Brackman or Todd Foley, USISL:

TAMPA, Fla. - In a move that will transform the landscape of professional soccer in the United States, the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues and the American Professional Soccer League have agreed in principle to merge their organizations, creating a brand new, nationwide, strong, unique and united Division II professional soccer league. The merger will be announced at the United States Soccer Federation Annual General Meeting in Arlington, Va. on July 11.

The new league will be named the A League and its logo will incorporate the USISL's sizzling ball. The new A League will become a division of the USISL, with the APSL dissolving by the end of 1996. The new A League will become a somewhat separate entity with separate governance from the rest of the existing USISL. The new league will have a maximum of 24 teams when it begins its first season in April or May 1997. All of the teams in the APSL, which presently is also known as the A-League, would become members of the new A League. The bulk of the other teams in the new league will come from the USISL Select League, which was recently granted provisional Division II status by the United States Soccer Federation, while a few may also advance from the USISL Pro League or Premier League.

"This is a landmark of sorts because it marks one of the first times in American soccer history where rival forces have done a sensible thing," Marcos said. "That is remarkable. We were able to put aside personal differences and personal agendas. It should be cause for A-League and USISL executives to congratulate each other and themselves. But ultimately the ones who benefit most from this are soccer in North America and its fans. Not only is this an advance for the sport, but a positive deal for our investors. From a personal point of view, this merger allows us to complete our blueprint for the USISL's soccer pyramid and now just simply get after it - whatever "it" means." Still to be decided is the actual name of the Division III league under the USISL umbrella, currently known as the USISL Pro League, as well as the names of the amateur leagues which the USISL operates: the Premier League (outdoor men's league), the "W" League (outdoor women), the USISL Indoor League (men), and a pilot youth league. Already being considered is a USISL alphabet soup of monikers: the A League, B League, C League, W League, I League and Y League. An owners committee of the new league will consider the naming possibilities at its next meeting, July 17 at the USISL All-Star Game in Blaine, Minn., and make recommendations.

Many details related to the merger of the USISL and the APSL still must be finalized, however a consensus has been achieved on several major points, which are summarized below:

These USISL teams have applied for Division II status:

Arizona Phoenix                         Myrtle Beach Boyz
California Jaguars                      New York/New Jersey Stallions
Carolina Dynamo                         Nashville Metros
Central Jersey Riptide                  New Mexico Chiles
Charleston Battery                      New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers
Connecticut Wolves                      Orlando Lions
Delaware Wizards                        Raleigh Flyers
El Paso Patriots                        Reading Rage
Hampton Roads Mariners                  Richmond Kickers
Long Island Rough Riders                South Carolina Shamrocks
Milwaukee Rampage                       Tampa Bay Cyclones
Minnesota Thunder                       Worcester Wildfire

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