There are three teams in the United Soccer League’s ranks that have the same moniker. This is the Red Wolves Soccer Club moniker. These teams are the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club (USL League One), Park City Red Wolves Soccer Club and Dalton Red Wolves Soccer Club (which play in USL League Two). The United Soccer League’s grave error is with the teams in Park City and Dalton not with Chattanooga.
The problem lies with the ownership of all three clubs as there is a rule that the two teams who play in USL League Two violate. This is Section 202(e) of the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup. This rule or law states that:
"Any Outdoor Professional League Team that is majority owned by a higher-level Outdoor Professional League Team, any Outdoor Professional League Team whose player roster is materially managed by a higher-level Outdoor Professional League Team, or any team that is (1) majority owned by an Outdoor Professional League team, (2) registered with any Open Division League, and (3) registered as a professional team, shall be ineligible to participate in the Open Cup. The Open Cup Commissioner shall circulate a list of proposed ineligible teams for review by the Open Cup Committee."
There is a major conflict of interest in the United Soccer League
Although the Park City Red Wolves SC and Dalton Red Wolves SC aren’t considered professional teams because they play in USL League Two, a league that is only active in the summer months. There are provisions that deter them from playing in the qualifying stages of the tournament should they make it that far.
For example, the earlier portion of the rule states that “or any team that is majority owned by an Outdoor Professional League team, (2) registered with any Open Division League, and (3) registered as a professional team, shall be ineligible to participate in the Open Cup”.
Why are these three points and the way that it is written relevant? Mainly because of the fact that the parent club, Chattanooga Red Wolves, is a professional team in USL League One. This sort of oversight error made by the Soccer Federation could cost this year’s edition to be either declared void or canceled by violating one of its bylaws.
This same rule applies to all reserve squads in MLS Next Pro and in the UPSL. Due to Chattanooga not only owing the two teams in League Two but also sending players to fill their rosters, there shouldn’t be any way that these two would even be able to play in the qualifying stages.
In some sort or another, other nations have this rule in their open cups. The Copa del Rey (Spanish Open Cup), the Deutscher Fußball-Bund Pokal (German Open Cup), and the FA Cup (English Open Cup) don’t let reserve squads play. Out of all of these, France’s open cup is the most liberal cup in terms of admitting teams into it as there are teams from every French dependency.
The most serious and potentially egregious rule that these teams break is the conflict of interest rule. This rule in its most basic prohibits reserve squads or any team that is owned by another team to play in the same division.
The reasoning is twofold; one of them is the potential for collusion or match-fixing. This relates to the act of intentionally screwing teams over to help one or more of the teams that an owner or ownership group owns. The second is more about competing against oneself.
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One solution is to have either Park City or Dalton self-relegate and join the UPSL. The other option is to make Park City or Dalton become professional and be promoted to League One and have Chattanooga, the team in the highest category, be in the Championship. If anyone wishes to see the entire rule book, the Federation has made it free to download. The link to the rule book is right here, Section 202(e) is on the top of page 29.