UPSL sold to Miami Beach-based holding company

ELP Brands, a Miami Beach-based holding company founded in 2019, has acquired the United Premier Soccer League, the national amateur league that started out in Southern California in 2011 and has expanded to 32 states.

The UPSL founder and president is Mexican-born Leonel Lopez, a businessman in Southern California's Orange County who played in several Orange County-area leagues and started the Santa Ana Winds FC, one of the top clubs in the UPSL. The UPSL commissioner is Yan Skwara.

The UPSL grew out of its Southern California home and has expanded to more than 300 men's teams in three divisions, implementing promotion and relegation in certain regions. In 2019, the UPSL's Florida Soccer Soldiers reached the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

The fall 2019 UPSL champions were the Maryland Bobcats, who featured players from 10 different African nations. UPSL delayed the start to the  2020 spring season. Its first game since the coronavirus shutdown is Saturday in Alaska.

The ELP Brands founder/CEO is Englishman Graham Walsh, and its COO is Luin Frazier.

Walsh, whose background is in finance, ran a macro hedge fund, Prologue Capital, which closed in 2017. Frazier's background includes management positions on the Orange Bowl Committee and at IMG, Univision and most recently the National Basketball Players Association.

"The UPSL is already important for soccer in America with its accessibility, diversity, and inclusiveness," said Walsh, "but the journey is just getting started. In a country this size, there is huge demand and great potential. We provide access to playing time and a range of ideas which the professional game here is not deep enough to provide. In Europe and South America, the lower leagues form part of the game's fabric, and each local club can tie a community together. The clubs feed players and coaches, referees, and owners into the professional game, and this is now happening in America through the UPSL."
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