by JAKE NUTTING
The North American Soccer League has taken its first step toward rebuilding in the wake of a tumultuous offseason with the announcement that Bill Peterson will no longer serve as commissioner.
Rishi Sehgal, the league’s Director of Business Development and Legal Affairs, has taken over the position on an interim basis while the league seeks out a full-time hire for the job.
A statement from Peterson was included in the league’s press release announcing the split.
“The last four years have been incredibly exciting and challenging,” said Peterson. “The league and clubs accomplished so much during this time and I am very proud to have been a part of it. I am especially proud of the effort and accomplishments of so many others along the way. There is a lot of work still to be done and now is the time to allow someone else to come in and lead the next phase of development for the NASL. I would like to thank the owners, clubs, coaches, players, sponsors, staff, and fans for all of their support and I wish the NASL much success in the future”.
Peterson took over at the conclusion of the 2012 season after the resignation of the league’s first commissioner, David Downs. His start coincided with the first season of the rebooted New York Cosmos and saw the league transfer to the much derided split season format.
The NASL was meant to enter into a new stage of rapid expansion under Peterson’s leadership, but missteps have placed the league in a similar position to when Peterson took charge. Eight teams competed in Peterson’s first season at the helm and now the same number will do so again in the 2017 season.
With the staggering loss of five teams this offseason, the NASL is promising a culture shift that will see the league implement more stringent standards for expansion and work toward reining in the spending that drove many NASL teams toward financial ruin.
“The new NASL will have three priorities going forward,” read the NASL’s statement. “It will continue its responsibility to work collaboratively with soccer stakeholders across North America to help grow the game. Second, the league will take a more prudent approach to expansion with a more rigorous vetting process by creating an Expansion Committee. Lastly, there will be a focus on long-term growth and as such, the NASL has begun implementing financial sustainability measures to grow the league. To achieve these priorities, the NASL will be investing in the leadership, skills, and capabilities required to maximize its potential”