The debate over promotion and relegation in Major League Soccer now reaches its coaches. Intel’s Miami manager Phil Neville is a staunch proponent of pro/rel in MLS, saying the concept will help the league be more competitive.
In an interview with The Athletic, Neville spoke about Inter Miami’s growing pains in Major League Soccer. The club is in his third season at the club and his second full stint in 2022 for the first time he has managed to make it to the MLS Cup his playoffs. His other two were Miami in middle to bottom of the table. Not the worst threat in the league, but comfortable outside of a playoff spot, plus there’s still some turmoil in his MLS playoff structure this season, but that’s for the future.
That was less interesting for Inter Miami in the second half of the season. This is a big difference from the bottom half of the rankings in Europe, especially in England, where Neville spent his 20 seasons as a player.
“I see it in my country, England, where life or death is at stake,” Neville told The Athletic. I think this league has always made brave decisions.”
One of those brave decisions is to include promotion and relegation.
Neville backs MLS Pro/Rell
MLS is moving forward. With Apple’s deal for global streaming and continued expansion with a new team, the competition is growing in popularity. Or, at least, that’s the hope.
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“How do we keep the league moving forward? I don’t think some kind of reward, or promotion or relegation, is a silly idea to explore. I’m sure they’re[exploring it],” Neville added.
Certainly, the idea of promotion and relegation in Major League Soccer would make the entire season more meaningful. His push to the MLS playoffs is one that no other league has. However, there is no real punishment for missing the playoffs. Instead, the team has no chance of contending for the title.
“I’m arguing it might be another step the league takes. We have a truly competitive league with the bottom two down heading into the final game of the season.”
In this MLS hypothetical promotion and relegation system (a concept Don Garber discussed), there is drama on both ends of the conference division. This includes the traditional postseason phase of MLS.
“I’m all for it. It will make us more competitive in the league.”
Inter Miami not enthusiastic
The Athletic included a note to clarify Neville’s comments regarding promotion and relegation. Inter Miami have expressed concern over Neville’s comments. Neville emphasized that these are his personal opinions based on his experience as a player.
“Having said that, the single entity format has contributed to the league’s standing on the world stage and has allowed the sport to grow so much in this country and to be so competitive that we enjoy so much. It has allowed us to become an exciting MLS with
Phil Neville will start his third full MLS season with Montreal on February 25th with the MLS Season Pass.
Photo: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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