North Carolina FC of Cary, the oldest continuously operated second division team in the USL Championship, is dropping a level to the USL League One in 2021.
NCFC chairman Steve Malik described the move as ‘strategic,’ a move that will reduce the club’s losses and allow it to concentrate on its player development initiatives on the men’s side and women’s club, the NWSL powerhouse Carolina Courage.
CSN soccer columnist Merle Thorpe explained, “My understanding is that it’s largely financial. The club has been losing money (more than usual) due to Covid; the fees to continue operating in the USL Championship league are much higher than in USL League One; the required salaries to players are significantly lower in League One than Championship and there’s considerably less traveling expenses. Additionally, the owner’s game plan all along, I think, was to get into the MLS, and that’s no longer realistic in the short term, particularly with FC Charlotte being selected to join as an expansion club in 2022. (Looking forward, NCFC’s best near-term chance may be if a current club folds)
“The move was self-inflicted; Malik decided to relegate. And it sounds like the move could be reversed if things change. Note also that I think five other clubs have made similar moves to drop out of USL Championship.
“Tough times out there,” he added.