NASL commissioner Bill Peterson has been making the rounds ahead of the 2014 season, and spent Monday in San Antonio where he answered a few questions. The full Q&A is worth a read, as he touches on the expansion plan as well as a few of the specific markets he is looking at.
One answer in particular caught my eye, though, as it had to do with one of the Cosmos' offseason acquisitions:
How do you respond to Scorpions president’s Howard Cornfield’s concerns about salary disparities after the Cosmos outbid them for Hans Denissen?
We don’t think there’s a disparity that creates any advantages or disadvantages. There are always differences of opinion of what a player may or may not be worth. It’s probably wrong for one club to accuse another of doing something wrong without having all the details. From our standpoint, we’re not concerned about a margin that would create a disadvantage or advantage. We think the owners do great determining the market value for our players.
For those that don't recall, Cornfield was less than thrilled with the contract the Cosmos offered Hans Denissen*, the Scorpions' best player in 2013. He followed up that rant by signing Richard Menjivar, Walter Restrepo, and Eric Hassli, all of whom probably took sizable offers to bring to San Antonio. Frankly, those complaints ring somewhat hollow in the wake of the Scorpions' spending spree, and certainly back up the idea that there isn't a massive spending gulf wide enough to really cause concern.
*Cornfield spent Monday penning a factually-questionable rant about Minnesota United as well, so it appears that New York isn't the only club irritating the skin underneath his tinfoil hat
From a personal standpoint, I'm not sure why clubs would want to discourage more spending to begin with. With TV and advertising money being minimal at this level, attendance and matchday revenue will be the primary moneymaker for NASL clubs. Putting a better quality product on the field is certainly the best way to increase attendance, so encouraging clubs to put more resources into payroll should help them grow their income going forward. MLS has spent their entire existence trying to limit payroll growth, and honestly, that's likely one of the largest reasons that they've seen their product struggle to take off. It's no coincidence that the league has seen more growth in the past few years than they did during their first decade and a half, as they've finally given their clubs a bit of freedom to put a better product on the pitch. Can NASL sides afford to replicate the wild spending of the 70's and 80's? Certainly not. There is no reason they can't spend a bit more than they have in the past, though, especially as attendance grows and advertising dollars increase.
Personally, I think the NASL's lack of payroll limitations is better for the growth of the game than the MLS system, as it allows for clubs to put a more competitive product on the pitch. San Antonio is one of the markets that Don Garber has been looking at though, so maybe Cornfield is just beginning to toe the company line in hopes of eventually working with a salary cap in place. Regardless, his complaints ring hollow after the way San Antonio's offseason concluded, and the commissioner was probably right to show no concern at all for his complaints.