US set to get new third-tier pro league as NISA provisionally given OK

February 19 – The US looks set to get a second third tier professional league after the United States Soccer Federation provisionally sanctioned the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) as a Professional Soccer League.

The league could begin play in the Autumn of 2019 playing to a European calendar of autumn-to-spring season with a winter break.

To date clubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, New England and Philadelphia have been announced as part of the league, as well as an unspecified site in Connecticut, with the league saying it ready to make a series of city announcements in the next few weeks.

NISA, which is picking up where the now-defunct NASL left off, will rival the recently announced 10-team USL League 1 that also starts in 2019 but will play a calendar year season.

So far none of the old second tier NASL clubs have joined the league which would in theory be a step down for them, but would nevertheless keep them playing. San Diego-based 1904 FC which has ownership connections to Eden Hazard, Demba Ba, and Yohan Cabaye as well as NISA’s president Bob Watkins is part of the ownership group, and rumoured to be joining the league.

NISA’s league model is different to the traditional US closed league franchise format. NISA will operate an open system with no entry fees. Clubs will contract directly with the players and will not be subject to a league salary cap, but will be able to participate in player rights and the international transfer market.

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