NASL commissioner Bill Peterson said Monday that if the Puerto Rico Islanders wish to return to the league, the franchise will have to take the same route as any other expansion bidder.
On Monday, the Islanders informed their local media that they will not be ready to participate in the spring 2014 NASL campaign. The team announced in December of 2012 that it needed time to reorganize its operations and wasn’t going to play in the 2013 spring season. In Feburary of 2013, it announced it would miss the fall season, too.
NASL plays a split-season schedule, with one session in the spring and one in the fall — the winners of the two seasons meet in the Soccer Bowl.
“I’m not really surprised, nothing has really moved forward in the last several months and no ownership group has stepped forward,” Peterson said from Edmonton, where he just completed meetings with city officials.
With the announcement that the Islanders won’t be back for spring 2014, the NASL will no longer play the waiting game with the franchise.
“I think if the Islanders come back, it would go through the same process as any expansion team,” said Peterson.
“We thought we were being very helpful with them. We think that it is a great marketplace for our league. We think there is the potential in Puerto Rico for a team to be wildly successful.”
Peterson was in Edmonton to meet people at City Hall to discuss the deteriorating turf at Clarke Stadium. The city-owned facility is home to FC Edmonton, and the Eddies have invested to add seats to the stadium. But the turf has sewn-in football lines and is at the end of its 10-year lifespan.
Peterson wants to see NASL games in 2014 on a new surface that doesn’t have football lines on it.
“The meetings went really well. There are good lines of communication, people know about the team,” said Peterson.
But, with civic elections in October, and Mayor Stephen Mandel not seeking re-election, Peterson understands the league and FCE will be dealing with a new civic government in two months’ time.
“I will be interested in meeting the new mayor and discussing the FC Edmonton organization and its importance to the city,” said Peterson.