Demba Ba, Eden Hazard Part of Effort to Bring NASL to San Diego

demba ba

by JAKE NUTTING

One of the rumored expansion groups looking to enter the North American Soccer League has some star power behind it.

Former Chelsea star Demba Ba revealed in an interview with Eric Wynalda on SiriusXM FC that he is part of an investment group that is close to the finish line in its effort to bring an NASL team to San Diego. He also confirmed that the group is one of the many that have been reportedly working with Peter Wilt and Club 9 Sports to launch NASL teams.

“We are close to finalizing the license,” Demba Ba offered. “We are working with Club Nine Sports and have an LOE from the NASL. We are very close to finalizing the team in San Diego, which will be something big.”

According to Demba Ba, he isn’t the only active player involved in the San Diego expansion effort. His former teammate and current Chelsea winger Eden Hazard is also on board, along with a few other players.

“We have some players, a group of investors… one of the most famous guys you know is Eden Hazard, a very close friend of mine. He is excited as well. He is asking often, taking his phone to call and ask when he is coming to San Diego.”

Sources tell EoS that Demba Ba’s San Diego group is not just comprised of players, though. A faction of local investors with more familiarity of the market are also said to be a part of the expansion effort.

Considered by many for a long time to be an untapped market for professional soccer, San Diego’s prospects of landing a team have heated up considerably recently. ULF Podcast host Nipun Chopa reported earlier in the week that the United Soccer League could announce a team in San Diego set to begin play in 2018 in March. That push to for a USL team in San Diego also has its own notable player behind it — Japanese international and A.C. Milan veteran Keisuke Honda.

The lower leagues aren’t the only ones with an interest in San Diego. Just as the departure of the NFL’s Rams from St. Louis opened up a void for Major League Soccer to possibly slide into that market, the recently announced exit of the San Diego Chargers from the city has increased the market’s attractiveness when it comes to MLS expansion.

San Diego was one of the ten markets acknowledged by MLS Commissioner Don Garber as on the league’s current list of expansion hopefuls. The San Diego Tribune reported this week that a group has been working quietly to bring MLS to the city and plans on submitting a formal application by the league’s January 31 deadline. The investment group hopes to garner public support in the in the first half of the year for a proposal to demolish Qualcomm Stadium and construct a 20,000-seat stadium in its place to be shared with San Diego State’s football team.