The NPSL is set for one of its biggest, longest and most exciting years yet, with a number of changes coming as discussed in a call with NPSL treasurer and Virginia Beach City FC owner Steven Wagoner.
For starters, the league’s grand fall-spring extended season originally announced last November is coming, with announcements expected as the NPSL’s summer season grows closer. The season is expected to begin roughly a year after the launch of the Members Cup, starting sometime between mid-August and early September. The current plan looks much larger than last year’s Members Cup, with plans for regional conference play much like the current NPSL summer format. The major determining factor over which teams will participate is whether there are enough involved to create a regional full-season conference. According to Wagoner, enough teams have expressed interest for the league to launch this year, with play set to begin this fall.
The new season will continue to be amateur, with a greater focus on expanding rosters beyond college athletes. While previous proposals from the NPSL have included professional spin-off tournaments, the departure of several prominent teams to NISA has led to a refocusing on the same sort of system already in place for the NPSL. Applicants are already being vetted and accepted internally, with stricter standards in place for full-season teams compared to summer-only ones. The intention remains for the full season to be an option for teams that choose to participate rather than a change in focus for the league as a whole, although teams that join the full season will still participate in the shorter summer seasons.
While the league initially planned to launch the extended season this upcoming March, departures of several Members Cup teams to NISA along with a desire for more thorough vetting and a larger initial launch has led the league to push the launch until after the conclusion of the 2020 NPSL summer season. As such, the inaugural extended NPSL season is expected to conclude after the opening rounds of the 2021 Open Cup.
Expect more announcements on the extended season closer to May, with teams announced over the summer and the schedule released closer to August.
As for the NPSL’s 2020 summer season, the full schedule is expected near the end of February or beginning of March, with several conference schedules already released.
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