The New York Cosmos are still breathing, for now. That is despite news from Pedro Heizer, a South Florida based soccer writer. He gave us this short and ominously vague series of tweets this morning that spelled doom for not only the Cosmos, but for the entire North American Soccer League:
Breaking: Cosmos have notified the league they will cease operations.
My source went on to say @NYCosmos have paid all staff and players and notified all players and have been released.
Source added NASL is rumored to be closing, with the remaining teams making exit plans to join @USL as early as this upcoming season.
New York Cosmos Crisis: Team Still Operating, Team Hasn’t Folded Yet
After yesterday’s news that the Cosmos were furloughing employees, withholding paychecks, and shopping players like there was no tomorrow made us all wonder if there was, in fact, no tomorrow.
It appears that the cornerstone of the NASL is not defunct yet. The only official word from the club was that they were at the annual Board of Governors meetings in Atlanta, where the future of the league was sure to be a hot topic. All eyes will be on the Cosmos and how they decide to handle their current situation, but the truth is, their demise is probably the end of the entire league.
If the Cosmos Live On
The future looks bleak for the team, but it certainly can survive. Selling off players, cutting payroll, and not spending money on overly expensive talent can go a long way towards saving the team. If they can secure a cheap venue and find some way to boost attendance, they may even keep things going in the long run.
As for the league, it would struggle to survive without the Cosmos brand to hold it together. At the moment, the league is sitting at ten teams after Minnesota United, Ottawa Fury, and Tampa Bay Rowdies left for other leagues. San Francisco Deltas are coming in, meaning the 12 team league is still only down two members. The league can sustain itself there, as long as they try to control their spending. Overspending in all aspects of team management is what got everyone into this mess to begin with.
However, with the Cosmos on the brink of destruction, Rayo OKC uncertain about their financial future, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers unable to pay back loans, it looks like as many as three more teams could be gone. That would leave a very weak seven team league that is spread out across a wide geographical area. With attendances steadily declining everywhere except with the Carolina RailHawks, this isn’t a great business model.
If the Cosmos Fold
If the Cosmos end up six feet under, it’s highly likely the NASL dies along with them. If the league cannot hold onto the one team that harbors similar division one ambitions, what investors will come along with that same ideology? Commissioner Bill Peterson continuously claims that plenty of new franchises and new investment partners are lining up all the time. I’m sure if the Cosmos, and the other near death teams, fold, those investors and potential expansion teams will turn around and never come back.
As for the teams that aren’t on the brink of death, several theories have come out as to what happens to the remaining NASL franchises of the league does die out. Word on the street is that the United Soccer League will open its doors to any surviving clubs. That could mean the USL swells by as many as nine more teams for next season.
There has even been talk of the NASL and USL rejoining into one league. If you recall, the NASL was formed after it split off from USL PRO back in 2010. Reports indicate that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati along with the top USL brass were also in Atlanta for today’s meeting.
For what it’s worth, the Cosmos, if they do end up surviving, are unlikely to accept a position in the far less ambitious USL. They somehow still see themselves as a global brand a top tier club. They don’t belong in a league that has justifiably set itself as an underling to MLS.
The future of the team and league should be decided in the next couple of days, so stay tuned.