NEW YORK - The North American Soccer League has canceled its 2018 season.
The league, which included the Jacksonville Armada for the past three seasons, failed to receive a preliminary injunction preventing the U.S. Soccer Federation from revoking the NASL's Division II status. League officials hold out hope that they can return in 2019.
Interim NASL Commissioner Richi Sehgal issued the following statement:
"The focus of the antitrust suit to date has been obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season. Unfortunately, with USSF's decision and the loss of the preliminary injunction, playing the 2018 Season is no longer a possibility. The focus of the antitrust suit now shifts to securing the long-term advancement of soccer in this country, not only for the NASL, but for all soccer fans, clubs, and communities impacted by the USSF's restrictions on competition. Also, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer. The NASL and its clubs will look at all avenues to return to the field for the 2019 Season."
During the NASL's hiatus, the Armada and two other NASL members, Miami FC and New York Cosmos, will field teams in the National Premier Soccer League with play scheduled to begin on April 15.
Armada owner Robert Palmer has been working on a "Division Zero" format that could find a new league created focused on a "community-based" pro soccer approach, one that Palmer said could allow smaller, amateur clubs to move into a professional league. Palmer previously said that he was open to rejoining the NASL in August, when the league originally planned to start its season this year, but was also open to joining another league.
Team president Nathan Walter said in a statement:
"We are very disappointed in the decisions made by the USSF and federal court. It is very upsetting how many people across the game have been affected. We have been working very hard to find a path to move forward and we will continue to explore all options to keep the players on the field and fans in the stands beyond the upcoming NPSL season. Mr. Palmer and myself believe in the Jacksonville market and understand there must be a change in the landscape of U.S. soccer to support and stabilize community-based soccer. We are working tirelessly to develop a sustainable future for the club and are committed to finding a solution. I will be meeting with over 20 other teams on March 10 that share similar values and I look forward to what will result from that meeting. Now, more than ever, the Jacksonville Armada can use the support from fans, corporate partners, and supporters during the NPSL season as we secure the future of soccer in Jacksonville for years to come."
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