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Back in June, the Court set the preliminary schedule for the next year or so in the NASL v. USSF/MLS anti-trust case. In their initial request for a trial date in December 2018, the NASL warned that a late trial date would essentially put them out of business due to atrophy. USSF/MLS for their part wanted a trial date some time at the end of 2019/early 2020 for…reasons. The court sort of split the baby, and set a discovery cutoff of April 30 2019, at which time the court would see where things are at and then set the trial date.

Since the court set that deadline in June, the parties have been busy discussing discovery.  While that process continues, the NASL have just filed a motion for an expedited trial date in June 2019, the basis for which is that a later trial date will have the effect of cancelling the 2019 and 2020 seasons, which would (presumably) end the NASL as an ongoing concern.

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I’m not sure if this is the first official confirmation that there will not be a 2019 NASL season, so I’ll try to follow-up on that. Obviously, even if the NASL was to get a favorable ruling along the timeline they’re asking for in June 2019, that would preclude them starting before the fall of 2019. Even though they’re planning to go to fall/spring schedule, it’s unlikely they could secure the contracts/players/stadiums they’d need to begin in fall 2019, as they point out.

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All of this seems factually accurate, so are there any federal rules/legal precedent to rely on? The NASL digs back into our sports history to find some, and it’s an interesting argument.

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See, that’s why it’s important to pay attention in history class. Interesting argument, and seems to be pretty analogous (you can read the opinion here).

Where there is going to be an issue, is asking the court to set a deadline for dispositive motions like summary judgment, prior to discovery being finished.

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Indeed, USSF/MLS have filed something of a response to this request, though they don’t actually cite any legal authority in support of their (apparent) opposition. Or a substantive response at all, really.

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Three things:

A. What relevance whatsoever does the timing of the NASL’s filing have on, well anything? As the court wasn’t going to make a decision on the NASL’s request on the 4th of July (or in the days thereafter), why is USSF/MLS even bringing it up? Are they trying to imply that the NASL is un-American for filing this request on July 3? Has this filing so devastated USSF/MLS that they’re not going to be able to enjoy hot dogs and fireworks?

B. The second part of USSF/MLS’ apparent complaint is on much firmer ground, and NASL will have to answer why they didn’t make this request when they were arguing over the scheduling timeline.

C. If USSF/MLS is going to file a substantive response on July 10, what is the point of this letter? It seems more designed for public consumption, especially given the (sleazy) opening sentence.

So we’ll have some additional documents to look forward to on July 10, and they Judge will make a decision. Additionally, the parties have been called into the principal’s office on August 7, to address expert witness discovery deadlines. My guess is the court will hear all of these issues at the same time.



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