Peterson’s Comments Fuel Rumors that Rayo OKC Won’t Return in 2017

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson did his best Wednesday to avoid distracting from this weekend’s championship final by evading the more hot-button topics facing the league as it concludes its sixth season.

Sometimes, though, an evasive answer can be meaningful.

When asked outright in a media conference call how many teams the league will have competing next year, Peterson bluntly stated that the issue has yet to be determined.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Peterson said of next year’s field of teams. “You can do the math of where we’re at today, there’s a couple of other things we’re looking at, and I think we will probably make those decisions at the end of this month. We’re working on those discussion now, but we’re going to focus on the championship this week and then we’ll get back to the future afterwards.”

The departures of Minnesota United FC, Ottawa Fury FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies have all already been confirmed. With the entrance of the San Francisco Deltas in next year’s Spring Season, the league would hold at nine teams should no other teams drop out.

At the moment, speculation is growing that expansion side Rayo OKC might not be back for a second season as its primary investors in Spain shift more attention to the flagship club Rayo Vallecano in Madrid. Marca.com reported on Tuesday that Rayo OKC’s ownership has not yet contacted its business partners about returning for the 2017 season.  While Rayo OKC had a strong debut season on the field and reached the NASL postseason, Rayo Vallecano was relegated from La Liga in May and is already flirting with relegation again after a dismal start to the new season in the second division.

There was a question toward the end of the year whether or not the Fort Lauderdale Strikers could be on their last legs given the ownership group’s failure to meet payroll for staff and players on time on multiple occasions throughout the season. Peterson offered that the league is working to ensure the situation with the Strikers does not repeat itself, although he declined to go into detail on how they plan to do so.

“We’re addressing it is what I would say,” he stated. “We’re not going to talk about what we’re doing publicly, or even what the other issues were. They’re internal issues with the team that are being addressed even as we speak, and we’re confident that we’ll get those resolved in a satisfactory manner.”