The North American Soccer League (NASL) confirmed in January that it has retained Division II status from U.S. Soccer, although just barely. The league had a challenging 2016 season with ticket sales dwindling, several clubs having difficulty meeting financial obligations, and four of its teams either folding or joining other leagues. The difficulties faced by the NASL in 2016 have led to the amicable parting of ways with league commissioner Bill Peterson.

“The last four years have been incredibly exciting and challenging. The league and clubs accomplished so much during this time and I am very proud to have been a part of it. I am especially proud of the effort and accomplishments of so many others along the way,” says Peterson in a statement posted on the league’s website, nasl.com. “There is a lot of work still to be done and now is the time to allow someone else to come in and lead the next phase of development for the NASL. I would like to thank the owners, clubs, coaches, players, sponsors, staff, and fans for all of their support and I wish the NASL much success in the future.”

Peterson was named commissioner in 2012, putting the NASL on a path toward growth, including plans to expand the league to as many as 20 teams by 2018. However, after a league-high 12 clubs participating in 2016, the NASL will start 2017 with only 8 teams — six in the U.S., and one each in Canada and Puerto Rico. The eight clubs are FC Edmonton, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC, Puerto Rico FC, and San Francisco Deltas.