Chicago gets go-ahead for NISA franchise and 2021 start

November 6 – The third tier National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) in the US has announced the owners and management team behind their 11th franchise team which will be based in Chicago.

The team, whose official name has not been decided, will have investment banker Bruce Merivale-Austin as its principal owner while NISA co-founder Peter Wilt will lead the development of the franchise on the ground. Night Train Veeck has been hired at the team’s chief operating officer.

The Chicago team will begin play in 2021. The club has launched an online poll for fans to submit suggestions for club name and team colours which are expected to be announced in January.

“This is a very exciting day for people who care about soccer in Chicago. We look forward to working with Chicagoans to build an organisation that will share their values, be transparent, diverse, equitable and inclusive,” Wilt said.

NISA was founded in 2017 at the time the old NASL started to break apart following the loss of its tier two professional status. While take-up of the NISA proposition by clubs was initially slow – the league is working towards a promotion and relegation system with clubs controlling the league, and owning their intellectual property – there is now a clear momentum as the league gets towards a critical mass of competitive clubs.

NISA’s season splits over the year end to follow a European calendar rather than the calendar year season generally favoured in the US. NISA also runs the mid-summer pro-am Independent Cup tournament, the year-long amateur league NISA Nation, and NISA Media.

“Having a club in Chicago is a powerful statement as we create an open system of quality, independent professional and amateur clubs across the country,” says NISA Commissioner John Prutch. “NISA has rapidly grown its foundation through expansion, affiliates with amateur leagues, and augmenting our structure. Bringing Peter back into the fold is icing on the cake.”

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