NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers in financial jeopardy - reports

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are in serious financial jeopardy, while the future of the entire National American Soccer League is also in doubt, according to reports.

As reported by WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, and confirmed by Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald, Strikers principal owner Paulo Cesso stopped funding the team on Sept. 1.

That would leave the NASL to cover expenses for the rest of the season, and the league will discuss the Strikers' situation at next week's Board of Governors meeting.

The reports say Cesso's group is expected to put the club up for sale.

The NASL released a statement to WRAL that said: "Whenever a situation arises that requires the attention and support of the league office and its board, everyone within the NASL rallies together, like any true league would, to work through the situation and try to achieve the best possible outcome. The current status of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is no different."

The Strikers are bottom of the 12-team league in average attendance this season, which included a move from from Lockhart Stadium to Central Broward Regional Stadium this month.

The news come at the same time that Sports Illustrated reported that the Ottawa Fury and the Tampa Bay Rowdies are both planning a move to the United Soccer League (USL), while Rayo OKC are in similar financial trouble as the Strikers.

With Minnesota United joining MLS next season, that would leave the league short on clubs -- even with San Francisco slated to join in 2017 -- at a time when attendance is dropping across all teams. The NASL operated with eight teams as recently as 2013.

Under the U.S. Soccer Federation, the NASL operates as a second-tier league, while the USL is a third-tier division.

Since 2014, the USL has expanded from 14 to 29 teams, 11 of which are operated as reserves by MLS clubs, and more USL clubs have a limited affiliation with individual MLS teams.

The NASL considered bringing an antitrust lawsuit against U.S. Soccer and MLS because of its second-tier label, but league commissioner Bill Peterson told SI that legal action is no longer being pursued.