NASL Announces Miami FC as Next Expansion Club

Silva Maldini 3

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

The North American Soccer League has announced the next expansion team to enter its ranks will be Miami Football Club (Miami FC), and it will have the backing of sports media mogul Riccardo Silva and Italian playing legend Paolo Maldini.

The club will enter as the 12th team in the league for the 2016 season, and it will be the only professional club in the city of Miami when it does so — beating out Major League Soccer’s Beckham-led expansion side.

“This exciting announcement is another testament to the strength of our rapidly growing organization, our owner–‐friendly structure, and the growing popularity of NASL soccer worldwide. Riccardo Silva is a world leader in soccer media, and he has decided, along with his partners, that Miami and the NASL are part of an important future for the game globally,” says NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson.

Silva, President and founder of the sports media distribution company MP & Silva, will also act as the club’s president as it looks to build its first squad on the field and relationships within the under-served soccer community in Miami. Maldini, meanwhile, will take a role on the roster side. Miami FC will partner with local charities Play for Change and The Miami Foundation as part of that effort to strengthen ties with the city.

“I’m proud to support a venture that is not only bringing world-class professional soccer to Miami but also a project with an active charity program for the local community,” said Silva. “As Miami moves forward in the world of business and arts, we feel that it’s a good time to also take a step further in the world of sports and soccer, and we will do that with dedication and passion, bringing our business and soccer expertise. Soccer is the fastest growing professional sport in the USA, and Miami is a dynamic and multicultural city that is passionate for sports and has been longing for a marquee soccer franchise.”

MP & Silva’s influence on the global sports landscape is a massive coup for the NASL. The group distribution rights include the World Cup, Italian Seria A, French Ligue 1, and the NFL. Silva’s media connections will be relied upon to raise the level of exposure of the club, whereas Maldini, a five-time European Club champions and veteran of four World Cups, will be called upon to help but the technical staff and roster.

Silva and Maldini are joined by a group of international investors on the project, with Miami resident Antonio Barreto leading the charge. Barreto will take the role of club CEO.

The club has not made an official announcement about a playing venue yet, but are believed to be in talks with Florida International University to share the intuitions facility. NASL sources strongly denied that this foray into Miami is an answer to the prospective MLS expansion effort that David Beckham is spearheading in the city. The biggest hang-up for Beckham so far has been securing a stadium site that meets his group and MLS’ standards. In contrast, Miami FC is believed to not be seeking a permanent Soccer specific stadium at this time.

The announcement further strengthens the NASL’s stranglehold on professional soccer in Florida. It will be the league’s fourth professional team in the Sunshine State, compared MLS’ lone team, Orlando City SC. USL does not have a Floridian foothold.

As for the possibility of cannibalizing the South Florida market and threatening the fresh ownership group of Fort Lauderdale in a traditionally tough sports market, the Strikers do not seem at all worried.

“The Fort Lauderdale Strikers welcome Miami FC to the NASL,” said Fort Lauderdale Strikers Partner Ricardo Geromel.I’m certain that the ownership group led by Riccardo Silva and Paolo Maldini will create a first‐class organization. We expect a healthy and passionate rivalry when we meet on the field, which is great news for South Florida soccer fans. It furthers the case that this region is quickly becoming the soccer capital of North America.”

While the NASL is in need of westward expansion in timely fashion to comply with USSF’s Division II sanctioning standards, the strong investment group on the table would have been hard to ignore for such a young league. As for other expansion projects, there have been no updates on the status of the Virginia Cavalry or Oklahoma.

  • Stanmack

    I don’t understand the Miami draw. They have never been able to support a franchise as they are fair weather fans. Both the NASL & MLS sides will be absolute failures. Venture into markets like Indy, Sacramento, STL, etc… Avoid the failures. That being said, MLS should have moved “LAFC” to Sacramento. No need for 2 teams in a bad sports town.

  • Full 90

    Well, it obviously it depends who has the better location will succeed.
    If Beckham gets his waterfront stadium or a very good location then they will succeed but if NASL gets a pretty good location and some good DP signings like MLS, then you might have cosmos of Miami.
    But NASL should look into san Diego, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Omaha, recruit Austin, El Paso tx, Eugene, Birmingham, Nashville.

  • max

    Garber is holding Beckham to ransom with the reduced franchise fee to build a stadium whilst giving NYCFC, Atlanta and Minnesota the go ahead without one in place.

    Beckham should just settle for shared use of Marlins park, and look to build a stadium there rather then wait for the ‘ideal’ location Garber seems to want.

    Beckham said he might come out of retirement for Miami, but Garber is messing this up too as 2016 (40yrs old) now looks like 2018 (42yrs old).

    Added Miami MLS can’t now take Miami FC as a name

    • OpenCupFan

      I wonder why Beckham hasn’t filed suit against the league given how many franchises started without a stadium in place – and ManCity Lite without a stadium plan at all? Seems the grounds are there – assuming that he didn’t agree to that condition in his original contract.

  • Ned

    Excellent news! Though I hope NASL starts adding more variety in terms of locale. You don’t want the league to be known as Florida’s state league. Full 90 above had some good suggestions, though they should probably look more toward California and the Midwest (surely we can wrangle in an Ohio, Tennessee, and Missouri team?) than Southwest.

  • Chepe pedos

    I always thought Miami was a bad sports town . Soccer can succeed , but they need great signings and spend a a good amount on the the team .

  • OpenCupFan

    Not sure where to relay this, or even if anyone cares, but was watching ESPN FC tonight when early in the show Stuart Holden got into a short debate with Alejandro Moreno about the excitement of the relegation battles in Europe. Moreno was against it, didn’t really give a reason except to indicate he isn’t a fan – to which Stuart responded by saying how exciting it was and how much better it is than watching Chivas LA tank at the end of the season with nothing to lose because they had nothing to lose. At which point the rest of the panel looked shocked and quickly changed topics – hence the “short” nature of the debate.
    .
    Interesting to see if it effects his employment with ESPN FC in anyway. Something to keep an eye on.

    • NYCSPORTSPUNK

      Nothing like telling the good old truth to get you fired.

  • John

    Miami FC another NASL team that will draw 3000 fans , get no local coverage and the community won’t care about. wonderful.

  • Hydrahamster

    This was a bold move by the NASL. I was hoping for a western club announcement, but instead we have another Florida team. The ownership group sounds wonderful and could make a wonderful name for the league if successful. Hopefully it will make wonderful loyal fans.

  • Resguard

    This is one of many announcements I feel the NASL are going to make this year, this is one of 2 east coast teams coming, as well I think there will be at least one in the midwest and another one or even two coming from the west coast.

  • OpenCupFan

    I like the ownership group. Interested to see how this plays out. Will be watching.

  • Full 90

    Any rumors or facts on where NASL will be going next :) San Diego,mean Francisco, Eugene, Orange County, Birmingham, albuqurque, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth. Any news.
    On the other side,I’m pretty sure as NASL get fancier markets, cosmos will be ready to leave NASL and go to MLS.

    • Resguard

      No one has any idea, Bill Peterson is the master of illusion with this stuff, he says he has a lot of interest in a lot of areas and the NASL is waiting for the right time for each team to be announced, making sure that the teams meet the requirements needed to compete competitively.

    • Hydrahamster

      The MLS said they are not looking for another New York team and the Cosmos express they don’t want to be a single entity club.