PART TWO – INTERVIEW WITH KARTIK KRISHNAIYER OF THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE

INTERVIEW WITH KARTIK KRISHNAIYER OF THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE – PART TWO

Today we bring you the PART TWO of the conversation between Goodman Browne and Kartik Krishnaiyer, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League. This is the first year of the league, and a massive year for soccer in North America, and Kartik talks about TV deals, the US Open Cup and the NASL’s relationship to Major League Soccer. He also discusses his beginnings in soccer journalism

If you haven’t read PART ONE, check it out here.

PART TWO

YGB – In previous years, the United Soccer League had a TV deal with Fox Soccer Channel, is there anything like that for the NASL this season? Are there any deals that individual teams have with local TV?

KK – No national TV this year, but four of our teams, Vancouver, Rochester, Tampa Bay and Montreal have excellent local TV deals. Rochester, Tampa Bay and Montreal also have excellent local radio deals.

YGB – Is the NASL or any of its teams showing matches online this season?

KK – Every match is being streamed live on the home teams website and often on the away teams site as well. We have had some quality issues with the broadcasts thus far but are working hard to ensure it improves.

YGB – What makes the NASL different from the D2 leagues of the past and for that matter what makes the NASL different from Major League Soccer?

KK – We are structured more equitably and more responsibly than USL. The teams own and run the league. We will promote the league and maintain proper standards because the team owners are actually invested in the league. USL’s track record of allowing failed ownership groups in major markets is well documented. Unlike MLS who has preached responsibility and stability, USL teams popped up and down from season to season. MLS has grown slowly and smartly, while USL’s professional ranks have been decimated. We’ve had a lot of discussion about D-2, but little ink has been spent on the demise of D-3 soccer under USL’s leadership to six teams in one small region, the Mid Atlantic. That is not good for American soccer. I hope USL, as the only sanctioned D-3 league in the country can rebuild a national infrastructure for third division soccer.

No offense towards any particular markets but it is preposterous to believe Columbus is entitled to top class football, while Atlanta which I mentioned earlier has the world’s biggest airport, and is the home to CNN and Coca Cola, and also hosted the Summer Olympics should be shut out of having high level professional soccer to support. MLS is the top flight league, that isn’t going to change.  We’re at this positive stage in this country largely because of MLS and the USSF. The NASL can help elevate the profile of second division soccer in major markets, complimenting the good work of MLS in other major markets and in some cases, in smaller markets. Salt Lake City is a much smaller market than Tampa/St Petersburg for instance.

USL’s model was more useful and successful in truly minor league sports towns, which Atlanta, Southeast Florida, the Twin Cities, Tampa and St Louis, among others most certainly are not.

YGB – Are there immediate plans for further expansion?

This is most certainly on the agenda. We’re adding Edmonton, Atlanta and perhaps one other team next season.

YGB – Has the talent level of NASL teams increased as compared with USL-1 from 2009?

Yes. Two names alone tell you this: Steve Ralston and Christian Gomez- In the 2004-2009 period, those two of probably the seven best players in MLS. USL-1 rarely if ever had that level of player.

YGB – Do you think this is a season that NASL teams will post a serious threat in the US Open Cup?

Yes. Rochester made the semifinals last season and was unfortunate not to make the final. The Rhinos are a very strong team again, and are now coached by Bob Lilley. I think they can make another deep run.

Our other teams are all ready as well. Crystal Palace Baltimore and Carolina RailHawks have both made deep recent runs as well in the Open Cup. The two leading goal scorers in the modern (post 1996) history of the US Open Cup both play in our league with NSC Minnesota: Jonny Menyonger and Melvin Tarley.

YGB – Next I have a few questions regarding your new role and the role you continue to play in the new media and blogosphere that powers soccer in North America. How did you find yourself in the roll of soccer journalist / blogger?

KK – Dumb luck I suppose. Prior to the 2006 World Cup, I started blogging about Team USA and the exploits of Jay DeMerit in Watford’s promotion campaign on a political blogsite and then decided, why not blog about soccer permanently. I had spent a lot of time on the Big Soccer message boards in the late 1990s. I want to say I spent the entire 1999 MLS and USL A-League seasons on the message boards at Big Soccer, as well as much of the Premiership and Bundesliga seasons. For some reason by First Kick 2000, I was sick of them, and left the Internet soccer world for several years.

YGB – How does your past experience prepare you for your current job at NASL?

KK – It’s vital. I’ve developed a network of contacts and sources in the soccer word that are beneficial to me each and every day on this job. I also have developed a keen sense of what “sells” to bloggers and print journalists from my time in the business.

YGB – Does your appointment say something about what the NASL is trying to do?

KK – We’re going to be very aggressive about outside the box media and communications strategies. Our owners are themselves very creative and the synergy formed between myself and our ownership group has been outstanding.

YGB – Did the NASL contact you?

Yes, they approached me just prior to their first Annual General Meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

YGB – How has the transition been?

It has been very smooth. I have already settled into the job and begun traveling the region to visit our teams and future expansion sites.

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