San Diego 1904 takes its ball to USL, and sheds light (or confusion) on NASL escape clauses

This may be a bit of picking over the NASL skeleton, but the San Diego Union Tribune is out with a story confirming that San Diego 1904 will be joining the USL for the 2019 season, after the NASL cancelled their season. That’s not particularly surprising of course. What I found a bit interesting was the following passage from the Union Tribune story:

The NASL franchise agreement allows clubs a one-month escape clause with little financial liability each September, but this season that was extended through the winter while awaiting the court decision on the injunction. Watkins said 1904 FC quietly exercised it a month ago but waited to announce their departure until the appeal was denied “out of respect to NASL.”

Huh. I’ve reviewed the NASL Articles of Formation, and there is definitely nothing about a “one-month escape clause.” There are provisions for teams leaving, the relevant ones here being “Proper Withdrawal” and “Operational Withdrawal.”

Proper Withdrawal:

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Operational Withdrawal:

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Obviously we’re talking about Operational Withdrawal here, since NASL lost D2 sanctioning. But nowhere in the Articles of Formation does it mention an escape clause each September for a limited withdrawal fee . That doesn’t even make any sense, as that would potentially kill the league in any particular year, if a sufficient amount of teams left, leaving NASL with less teams than required by the Professional League Standards. Perhaps the Articles of Formation were amended since 2013, but they were submitted to the court last September (2017). And if the specific franchise agreements conflict with the Articles of Formation, what is the point of having those provisions at all? Maybe I answered my own question.


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