According to several league and club executives, United Soccer Leagues has been put up for sale by Nike, the majority owner of the league. Two sources from the lower-level league have confirmed that MLS has inquired into purchasing it. Followers of the North American game have long dreamed of a promotion-relegation system similar to the one that exists in Europe, and it now seems closer to reality.
Chris Economides, senior director of USL-1, shed some light on the league's economic state last week when he told a Cleveland newspaper that only three to six of the league's 11 teams are profitable. But information about the sale remains sparse. "We are a private business and as such it is not our intention to speak publicly to the media at this time," said Tim Holt, executive vice president and COO of the USL. "In the short term we are okay with being a second tier in North America. But the league needs to start asking the question: What are we aspiring to be? A very strong, stable second division? Or are we interested in chasing first division?"
Two anonymous sources from USL say an MLS takeover is unlikely, based on Nike's asking price. They suggested that a third group, comprised of private investors, would more likely become the new owners.