Verdicts Reached on NASL Commissioner

As Bill Peterson enters his second year as NASL Commissioner, it's time to assess his reign
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, November 22, 2013

Defending The Fort - column on San Antonio Scorpions (SASFC) & the San Antonio soccer scene.

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson has had a tumultuous time with the league, going through ups and downs in his tenure.

With that in mind, it'd be good to sit back and look at some of the bigger issues in NASL right now and assess his performance in dealing with them.

Split season

It's a little rough to blame Peterson for this one, it wasn't solely his idea. He inherited this as commissioner so he needs to be given a pass for it existing. Having said that, the 2014 schedule certainly falls under his reign and this absurd 10/30 "split" is his responsibility.

The fact that the best team in the league for only one half of the season hosted the championship game is absolutely insane, and Peterson has been deservedly panned for such a silly schedule.

Puerto Rico Islanders

Puerto Rico's departure was slightly disappointing for the league, but it did save travel costs for the teams despite missing the diversity. It's hard to blame anyone but Puerto Rico on this one. Their fans may well be angry after NASL supported Minnesota for so long to revitalize their franchise, but the cash was thin and the league made it very clear they weren't going to continue to do that.

Expansion

It's been the hot topic of the year for NASL with the Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury coming in next year, and Oklahoma City close behind. Indy has been a huge boost to the league with season ticket deposits sold out, and the team seems to be doing a lot of great work. That team was brought in under former NASL Commissioner David Downs’ tenure.

With Indy, all that can be noted to Peterson is his complete lack of media attention given to a team that's generating plenty of good news, perhaps for fear of taking attention away from the New York Cosmos.

Peterson did bring in OKC and it's exactly the market NASL needs to be looking at: under-provided sports wise and in the mid-south, with solid management at the helm. Peterson has also largely stayed out of the legal battle surrounding the club, and avoided any mud slinging that USL PRO has done over the years.

New York Cosmos

By far the most covered story in the NASL in 2013 was the addition of the New York Cosmos. We can't attribute that to Peterson, nor allowing them the half season, which happened before him.

He could have disqualified the Cosmos from the SoccerBowl, but it would have lost the coverage, even if it would have been the right decision. Peterson has definitely favored the Cosmos in terms of media coverage, but that's more his media team listening to the demands of a largely New York-based national media.

Fan relations

This one is a pretty obvious one, and after the Ralph's Mob debacle it has to be mentioned. Peterson isn't loved by most fans, unless you support the Cosmos, and that's an issue that will need to be overcome.

To Peterson's credit, he did show up to a fan's summit two days after his infamous "watch another league" tweet, but fans are still waiting for an explanation or apology.

Whereas Downs was always available to media at matches and events and would actively seek people out, that never happens with Peterson. In all the events I have attended with Peterson present, I have seen him a total of 15 seconds. For Downs, that was more in the minutes.

Overall

It seems that the issue with Peterson isn't that he makes mistakes all the time. He doesn't. But when he makes a mistake, it's a major PR disaster. Peterson probably isn't up to the task.

The league can't afford another mistake as bad as "watch another league.” And with Peterson too proud to apologize for that incident, it's only a matter of time before his pride, not to mention his keyboard, gets him in trouble again.

Chris HOCKMAN

Nationality:
Australia
College:
Univ W. Sydney & Youthworks Coll.
Club Domestic:
Houston Dynamo, San Antonio Scorpions, Austin Aztex
Club Foreign:
Central Coast Mariners
Originally from Australia found football (or soccer as you Yanks call it) a great connection in a new country. Freelance writer since 2005 covering Australian and US Soccer. Based out of San Antonio but can regularly be seen in Houston, Austin and Dallas.
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