NEW YORK: The introduction of promotion and relegation could have long-term benefits for Major League Soccer fans, player development and commercial revenues, according to a report from Deloitte’s sport business division.

Despite an increase in public interest in soccer in the US, the number of players annual registered with US Youth Soccer has barely risen since 2000.

Dan Jones, SBG head at Deloitte, said: “We believe the introduction of promotion and relegation into the existing league system could have numerous long term benefits, including increased attendances, increased broadcast audiences, improved commercial revenue and a positive impact on both elite players and grassroots participants.

“The current closed system has served MLS well in its early years, but as it matures it is reaching member capacity, preventing further expansion.

“Other challenges facing the current structure include growing fan interest in overseas leagues such as the English Premier League and a stagnation in the number of players annually registered with US Youth Soccer.

“Though the US soccer league system may not be ready for such a move immediately and its implementation may not appear urgent, the topic is worthy of greater exploration and debate.

“US soccer should properly consider the merits of introduction of promotion and relegation and a transition plan for its successful introduction in order to drive US soccer forward.”