Joe Barone on the Relationship of the NPSL and USASA

Non League America Interview with Joe Barone

We would like to thank Joe Barone, Chairman of the National Premier Soccer League, for taking the time to answer a few questions we had.  Enjoy!

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Steve Bayley: Tell me what you think about the prospects for the league this year. What’s going to be different in 2017? What’s new?

Joe Barone: Well look, there’s been huge growth, we have 96 teams. I believe we’re the largest men’s national adult league in the country. Operating in the 4 regions. We’re definitely in new markets where soccer teams haven’t participated on the national level, at least in markets like North Dakota and South Dakota, so that’s definitely a huge huge plus for us, I’m also happy to say that we’ve grown in areas where we’ve had difficulties, which is the Portland Seattle, whether you call it the Washington state and Oregon areas, so there is a huge growth in those markets and I’m happy with the work the staff has done, with the board of directors and the full time staff Jeff Tiffault.  We like to talk about hot spots, and those are the hot spots that we took time into finding teams and ownership groups who invested in the NPSL.

Steve: Those spots that maybe have been slightly tougher for the NPSL to crack, you mentioned the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, the Pacific Northwest is a hot spot of lower league soccer activity and soccer activity in general. What do you think is the proper or ideal relationship between NPSL and others, what does a strong relationship between a national league like NPSL and a strong regional league like the EPLWA look like in a market like that? How can they best work together and what is the relationship with regional leagues like that at this point? And how can there be mutually beneficial activity?

Joe:  That’s always the million dollar question… What I can say is that, myself, and the executive board and the NPSL, were going into all levels of soccer, I think you need the local 7 v7 and recreational and local leagues in cities and towns to regional leagues and national leagues. So, under USASA, what I’ve done with USASA President John Motta and Duncan Riddle, who is executive director of US Soccer, what we’ve done particularly is I’ve said guys, the sport here needs to come together and we need to standardize, to have standards for amateur soccer, so when people claim to be you know, Division 4, Professional, and so forth and so on, the only thing where there is standards under US Soccer is division 1, 2, and 3, and then you know technically, there is no Division 4 right? So you can claim that a national league like the NPSL and the PDL are technically Division 4, just by the fact that it’s a national league and it has a national championship, then I said OK guys, USASA and US Soccer need to come together to put a system in place where you have a national league, lets call it USASA 1 or A, or SU Soccer Division 4 that has standards and teams can meet those standards, and then put a system in place where its monitored, you cant have a system that’s not monitored. We’re working on that and hope to have some kind of resolution hopefully by the end of the year or the next year.

Steve:  So, does that mean that they are gonna codify a standard to delineate potentially Divisions 4, 5, and 6? Like if 4 a national league, 5 was regional leagues like the EPLWA and GCPL, something like that, and then 6 would be like a league within one city, and some of the classic leagues like the Cosmopolitan League in New York and the Bay State Soccer League in Boston, and the leagues like that, the NSL in Chicago, 6 being all the leagues with teams in one metro area? Is that kind of how you see that unfolding?

Joe:  Some leagues have been involved in a proposed plan, you know a plan that is being discussed on a continuous basis, you know its been sent forward to US Soccer, you know obviously US Soccer has to digest it, and see if this is something that can work. You know we’ve put some thought into it. This is something that the game needs to have. The amateur side, I’m not saying that the teams in the Cosmopolitan League or the EPLWA or the NSL in Chicago are not good enough to compete in a national league, because they probably are. They’re good enough to compete in those leagues, right? The only thing I’m saying is, is that, if you have teams that are making the investments to play in national leagues, and at the present time, there’s two national leagues right? It’s the NPSL and it’s the PDL, right? So the investment made by those teams, to compete, and to travel, and to have staff and have all sorts of processes in place, is greater than a local team that plays in a Sunday league that maybe gets together once a week. Now are there exceptions? Of course there are exceptions. 100% there’s exceptions, you know where, a club who play in local state leagues, I mean I just think about my area, in the Cosmopolitan League, you get a team like Pancyprians, who puts a lot of money into it. Are there exceptions around the country? Of course there are exceptions, but there needs to be a structure and a standard from the USASA of how the process works. That’s what I’m saying.

Thank you, Joe.

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