promotion & relegation survey: personal reflections

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This is the third and final article in a three part series based on the results from a survey that ran on the site in December and January that looked to gauge the actual fan and owner interest in the implementation of Promotion & Relegation in the US and Canadian professional soccer pyramids. 

Read part one: Supporter Results  |  Read part two: Owner Results

I have to admit that making the decision on whether or not to write these series of articles was not any easy one. The debate I’ve held with myself over writing about the subject of promotion and relegation stretches back for the better part of a year.

Deep down, I knew that doing so would bring me a windfall of grief.

My words would be twisted, my intentions distorted and my mind numbed by the incessant drumming of some of the debate’s largest figureheads. All that happened well before I’d ever written a word on the topic in this space, so it was destined to be worse once I voluntarily jumped in with the sharks. It has been.

But if I could imagine a world in a vacuum where one could talk about pro/rel in the US and Canada without igniting a firestorm and one’s name being dragged through the mud, it’s a fascinating topic to discuss.

Why?

Set aside the incendiary nature of the debate as it currently stands. A comparison of the positives and the negatives of promotion and relegation’s implementation against the pros and cons of the current system requires so many different layers of thought. Logistics, finances, structure, migration path, legalities, desires — all of these are key elements in the conversation. And when one system appears to be beneficial for one of those factors, it could be a huge detriment to one of the others.

I love reasonable, level-headed and cordial debates like these. And it’s for that reason that I considered writing about promotion and relegation long before I ever knew of anyone named Ted — I just never got around to it, other than stringing together the occasional set of 140 character opinions on Twitter.

But it’s probably for the best that I didn’t. Because the reality is, it’s morphed into a ridiculously combustible topic here.

It’s a conversation that features extremely passionate group(s) of supporters and opponents. Both sets seem to be growing, but so too are those that have grown annoyed with the discussion and its tone. The mere mention of the phrase “pro/rel” on Twitter can literally set off a never-ending stream of notifications on your cell phone for the rest of the night. It’s hard to not get caught up in it — particularly for someone like me whose passion for the game pretty much defines their existence.

Unfortunately, in all of the mudslinging that goes down, there’s lots of hyperbole and opinion that’s tossed in alongside it like they’re undisputed facts.

That drives me bonkers.

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But if you’re going to broadcast yours and attack others unsolicited for theirs, you damn well better have more than a “belief” to back it up. To be honest, soccer is too important to me as a human being to allow potentially incredibly influential popular opinion to be established without it having some solid data to lean against.

That’s the reason I ran these surveys in the first place: to establish the most comprehensive data set on the opinions and desires of two of North American soccer’s biggest constituents. I didn’t care where the numbers fell one way or another — I just want something to refer back to other than hunches and speculation.

So with all that said, what is my opinion on the topic of promotion and relegation here in the US and Canada? What are my reasons for those thoughts? And did my thoughts change after seeing the results of the surveys?

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longing for the good ‘ol days

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The new US away kits officially dropped on Monday. It was impossible to miss, with images of the new blue-streaked shirts littered across social media by everyone from Nike, US Soccer, current mens and womens players to blogs, news agencies and randoms alike.

But if you weren’t paying that close of attention, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone had instead dropped an atom bomb on the USSF headquarters in Chicago, such was the negative reaction to yet another American soccer decision.

Whether or not it was a majority is up for debate, but it’s clear a sizable portion of the American fan base hated the jersey. Their ire seems to be pointed in multiple directions too, with Nike, US Soccer and even Sunil Gulati receiving poignant 140-character tirades since its official release. It was described as “ugly”, “effortless” and “unneeded”. Some were angry that it replaced the beloved “bomb pop” kit dawned by the US men in Brazil last summer — which, if you recall, also received a fair bit of scorn when it was first released.

Whether or not you like it, I don’t really care. I’m a fan. But then again, it’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to our own. It’s all subjective anyway and it’s no skin off my back if you don’t like it.

But the outrage that followed the new kit release wasn’t an isolated incident.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 22

WSOTP Pondcast - Season 2 Episode 22

Premier League recaps? Check. Balon d’OR Predictions? You know it. Transfer Fodder? There’s plenty of that. Crazy Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT call ups? Of course. Narrative about new managers winning their first games in charge? Regrettably. Episode 22 of the Pondcast features all those discussions and much, much more.

Have something you want us to chat about next week? Send your topics and questions by email (contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com) or hit us up on the social media links at the bottom of the page.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 21

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 21

Thanks to a weekend of rather underwhelming FA Cup third round matches, the “Pondcast” team now finally have a chance to catch up with the hectic English football holiday stretch. On this episode, the guys dive into the “Magic of the Cup” — or lack there of — rundown the New Years Day Premier League fixtures, and preview the January Transfer Window. But that’s not all, as the forever intertwined Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard invade our domestic football discussions, which is probably just fine for Gideon Zelalem’s sake. You’ll also find our weekly Fantasy, Winners & Wankers and Fulham Watch segments too.

Want to get involved in the discussion? Send us your questions and topics via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit us up on the social media links on the bottom of the page, and we’ll do our best to integrate them into our next episode.

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ten words or less #103

Arsenal starlet Gedion Zelalem

Thanks to the festive season, I’m currently enjoying being in the middle 14 straight days off from work for my “real world job”. And as usual, I went into the break with wild expectations of how productive I would be on the blog. But thanks in large part to family activities and obligations and catching up on sleep — not to mention a metric crap ton of Premier League fixtures —  I’ve predictably gotten very little done. A few things have been started, there’s some stuff going on behind the scenes and I’ve posted a few times, but otherwise I feel like I’ve been lazy. And I’m sorry.

So to keep you all content — and for me to keep my own sanity — below you’ll find the latest installment of Ten Words or Less link round up.

Please don’t over hype this. – washingtonpost.com

Potential host cities for the US-hosted 2016 Copa America? – globo.com

Want some bonus Ted Lasso footage? Of course you do. – youtube.com

IBWM’s 100 dropped, and there’s actually an American on it. – inbedwithmaradona.com

The USWNT are clearly struggling: is Wambach the problem? – soccerwire.com

This could light a fire under FIFA’s ass. – keirradnedge.com

The battle for MLS in Minnesota continues to be waged. – startribune.com

Liverpool’s kits next year will be made by… New Balance? – football-shirts.co.uk

I freaking love BBC commentator Nick Barnes’ match notes. – imgur.com

Arsenal transfer business to focus on midfield — not the defense? – theguardian.com

pic of the week 12/8-12/15

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damarcus-beasley

There’s been much talk about a changing of the tides in American soccer with the retirement of Landon Donovan. We’ve not been immune to the talk here at WSOTP either, and rightly so. And the tide continued its change today, as another of Donovan’s peers decided to hang up his boots… at least for the national team. That player in question: Houston Dynamo’s DaMarcus Beasley. But the Fort Wayne, Indiana, native — a man I had the privilege to play against and with during my formative years as well — hasn’t received near the spectacular send off that his long-time teammate did.

And in my humble opinion, that’s not exactly fair. He’s a versatile player, a man of many talents, and he’s overcome adversity to reclaim a place with the USMNT that many of us thought he would never recoup.

While he may not have been as talented or prolific as Donovan, it’s pretty easy to argue that Beasley’s career was just as successful. He earned the Silver Ball as the second best player at the 1999 U-17 World Cup, just behind Golden Ball winning buddy LD. A successful launch to his career in MLS with the Fire lead to a move to Dutch giants PSV, where he would eventually become the first — and only — American to play in the semifinals of the Champions League. He went on to make 107 appearances in Europe in a career that spanned the Premier League (Manchester City), the Scottish top flight (Rangers) and the Bundesliga (Hannover 96). He made a splash in Mexico with Puebla, too. And let’s also not forget all 121 caps Beasley earned with the national team, the seventeen international goals he tallied, and that he became the first ever American to play in four World Cups.

He’ll likely not get a testimonial or send off like his much heralded teammate, but I have a sneaking suspicion that RunDMB will just fine with that. And for that reason alone, we’re happy to give him the much deserved praise anyway.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 14

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 14

Who cares if it’s an international break… there’s still plenty of football to warrant a new episode of the Pondcast. So what’s on deck this week? D.J. and Jeremy delve into the US men’s national team friendly against Colombia and the negative reactions to Klinsmann’s post-World Cup displays. Euro 2016 qualifying also gets some time in the spotlight, as did the ludicrous findings of FIFA’s corruption investigation. And while there’s no Fulham Watch to update you on this week, the guys still picked their Winners & Wankers for the week. Not only that, but we also welcomed in our first guest of Season 2: the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Justin Duke, who our local listeners might know better as @EnquirerFC on Twitter. Justin talked with us about how he came to love the beautiful game, how he started following Liverpool, and also took part in our naming of our Third of the Season Premier League Awards™.

As always, if you want us to answer a question or hear us dish on a topic of your choosing, we would obviously love to do so. Just drop us a line at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, or you send them to us on social media using the links at the bottom of the page.

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we’re all grown up

This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for Football Golazo, the new football site brought to you by UK-based journalist Kristian Sturt (@FootieWriter). To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

Jurgen Klinsmann

For years, Americans have predicted American football’s long awaited arrival in the mainstream. But the metrics by which that achievement has been measured are many.

Some believe it can evaluated on international successes such as regular knockout round qualification and a quarterfinal appearance in recent World Cups. Others might cite the tremendous growth in popularity of the US national teams and the professional game overseas. And still others attribute the maturation and expansion of our domestic league as the key indicator. And to be fair, all of those are fair measuring sticks.

But in my humble opinion, it wasn’t until last week’s spat involving US manager Jurgen Klinsmann and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber that US football well and truly arrived.

That’s right: a legitimate club versus country debate is what we needed to officially declare US football as fully grown up. That may seem a little absurd given how these  generally derided rows are regular occurrences in more established footballing countries. Those headline generators like the the recent quibbling between Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers and England’s Roy Hodgson over the handling of a sleepy Raheem Sterling. Or more seriously, when UEFA threatened to ban an internationally-retired Frank Ribéry if he didn’t turn out for France if Didier Deschamps called him in a few months back.

We’ve honestly never had an actual one of those before in American soccer. Sure, there have been some minor issues in the past — mainly over missing star players when MLS refused to take international breaks. But none of those inspired a national debate in the same way that the verbal quarrel between our national team coach and head of our domestic league has.

Continue reading “We’re All Grown Up” on Football Golazo. →

ten words or less #98

bayern are good… like “scary good”. if you don’t believe me, just ask roma.

The waiting game when publishing articles for other sites can be excruciating. I’ve got an article that I finished for one a few days ago, and I don’t know when it will go up. It might be tempting to reach out to the editor of that site and ask when it might go up. But as most writers will attest, you never want to get on the bad side of an editor — at least if you ever want to write for him again. So I wait. “Patiently”.

Luckily, I’ve got this nice links round up for you to keep you patiently waiting for new original content, too.

Del Bosque finally stepping down from Spain post in 2016. – nbcsports.com

How was this NOT a penalty? – youtube.com

I now want Bolton to be promoted so bad. – theoriginalwinger.com

One of the best of the flood of #ThanksLD videos. – mlssoccer.com

Sunderland doing right by their incredibly embarrassed traveling supporters. – bbc.com

The boy who might have jump started American soccer earlier. – wsj.com

Shakhtar’s stadium damaged by a bomb blast in Donetsk. – donbass-arena.com

I wish more MLS teams would do collabos like this. – amongmen.com

Michel Platini wants “white cards” for dirty mouths. – theguardian.com

If I could find a wife, you’d think DaMarcus Beasley could. – soccergods.com

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 10

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 10

I’ll tell you what: there was no short supply of footie talk about in the latest rendition of the WSOTP Podcast. The return of the Premier League had everyone elated, and the guys provided a rundown of all of the highs and lows from the weekend action. Stateside, the rapidly solidifying MLS playoff picture provided ample talking points, as did the recent club versus country debate being waged between Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann. Chris is back with his Bundesliga update. The normal weekly segments — Fantasy UpdateWinners & Wankers and Fulham Watch — are all in there, too. And in just in case you missed it when it was tweeted out, Jeremy was kind enough to create a Spotify Playlist with every song we’ve ever used to close out the podcast — in order of appearance even.

Also, remember that we would love for you to send us topics and questions to talk about in next week’s podcast. Get into the mix by shooting us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweeting us or writing it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

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