In a Q&A released on the National Premier Soccer League’s website today, Commissioner Michael Hitchcock announces that he and the board of directors will be spending time in the offseason exploring the possibility of introducing promotion and relegation into the NPSL. Acknowledging that “fans would love to see a system of promotion & relegation in the U.S…. it would be great if the NPSL could be the league to bring promotion/relegation to the U.S.” Hitchcock states that he, “has a number of ideas” and that “we’re going to do a lot of work on this to see what makes sense and when.” While these comments indicate that the idea is in the exploratory stages, Hitchcock does mention that he will be presenting some ideas on the subject to the Board of Directors at the annual retreat in August.
Interestingly, I mentioned this very idea in a previous story I wrote exploring the idea of expanding the NPSL league structure to accommodate reserve teams and/or a second division. It should be noted that if the NPSL were to introduce promotion/relegation, it is likely to only extend to any division introduced under the NPSL ‘umbrella’. And while it is possible that the NPSL could set up an agreement with another league (several have suggested the NASL as an option) this seems highly unlikely due to the financial and economic concerns current higher league franchise owners would face if sent down.
Promotion/relegation could be a great introduction into the NPSL and is a change that is sure to draw significant support from fans of the game. As I stated previously, and intentionally avoiding specifics, the NPSL needs to “continue to find innovative ways to professionalize their product and set themselves apart.” The introduction of promotion/relegation does just that.