Should America have promotion and relegation?

There’s one big debate around American soccer – no, not the salary cap, or when the season is played unlike the European calendar, the main talking point is whether the Americans league should adopt promotion and relegation. We are going to be discussing the Pro/Rel debates and my opinion on whether they should or shouldn’t introduce promotion and relegation to the MLS, USL and NASL.

Promotion and relegation is a vital part of the European game, and in English football, according to this article by Sky Spotrts which you can see by clicking here, the Championship Play Off is the richest game in football, however, since the inception of the MLS in 1996, there has been no promotion nor relegation in the game, however, this doesn’t mean there hasn’t been debate about it. If someone tells you that there isn’t a debate happening in the fanbase, that person is a liar. This divides soccer fans across country. Some agree, some disagree. Many people feel that they should keep the American soccer away from our European football. However some feel that the MLS is getting the good teams from the other leagues like the NASL and the USL, leaving the leagues to fall into pieces like the NASL nearly folded in February 2017.


Now, time to be honest. I find it very unlikely that in the foreseeable future that the MLS organisation and MLS club would agree to a Pro/Rel system in America, this is because of a number of reasons including a) the MLS would lose franchise start-up fees. When you start a MLS club you pay the MLS to join their league and if a Pro/Rel system was introduced, this wouldn’t be able to be charged. b) MLS clubs would use a ton in revenue if they got relegated to the NASL/USL.


The above graph is a survey taken by all American and Canadian clubs on the owners’ desire to see Pro/Rel in US soccer. 1 means no desire, 5 means high desire. 40% voted on High Desire to see it introduced in MLS soccer. However, the shocking answer is when asked if ‘Is Pro/Rel a necessity for US pro soccer success, only 13/3% said yes, with 73.3% saying no it isn’t. I find this strange because I do believe for US soccer to be taken seriously in Europe, they need to adopt the pro/rel rules, and when we interviewed Will Seymore (click here to read it), he said ‘I think having that relegation and promotion system is vital to the growth of soccer in America’, but seemly only 13% agree with Will. The last question asked on the survey was if they thought it would ever happen in US soccer, and 60% voted No, and on this occasion, I think the 60% are spot on, I don’t think it will ever happen in America, rightly or wrongly.


The American soccer pyramid compared to the English pyramid.

Onto my opinion – Yes, I do feel that one day promotion and relegation needs to be introduced into the game in America, and I feel without this, it will fail to grow in other countries due to the lack of this system in the game. However, I’m not sure if realistically the system would work. The US is much larger than England and the teams are spread out all over the countries so they are also geographical issues to think about to.

A good article about promotion and relegation is America is this piece on how to add it into MLS by pastemagazine where they suggest making the MLS into two divisions, a Premier Division and a Championship Division, see the article by clicking here

Do you disagree with my opinion on whether America should have pro/rel? Tweet us your opinions at @DictateTheGame!


One thought on “Should America have promotion and relegation?

  1. Jeremy Mullins says:

    Pro/rel cannot work in the MLS under the current ownership structures. Perios.

    MLS is a single ownership entity where the league owns every team, and the team “owners” are actually investors that control the financial streams for a specific team, rather than actual owners. They did this to protect the league in the early days to allow the successful teams to prop up the failing ones so that the league as a whole would have a better chance at surviving. This single ownership structure is where the salary caps come from, as well as the different types of allocation money and the weird financial rules that no one else in the world has…it’s all a way for the financially successful clubs to prop up the less solvent ones.

    Right now, if a team were relegated, ownership would have to be transferred from the league to the club ownership group. When a team was promoted, that would have to happen in reverse. In order for pro/rel to work, this structure would have to be abolished. The level of legal work that would have to be done to even start this process would be staggering.


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