Major League Soccer (MLS) is just a few short weeks away from kicking off its 22nd season. It will start the season, fittingly, with the additions of its 21st and 22nd clubs: Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC. Despite teams continually adopting European football naming conventions (looking at you, Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC), the league and its commissioner Don Garber have repeatedly stated that they will not adopt one great bastion of the European leagues that the MLS emulates aspires to be—promotion and relegation.

Promotion/relegation (known as pro/rel) is the standard operating model in European football. In the Premier League, the bottom three teams each season fall through the relegation trapdoor into the second division—the Championship—with three teams climbing the ladder from the lower tier to take their place. The cycle continues down to lower leagues, creating a constant churn of clubs through the leagues.

Even the mention of instituting this system in MLS raises blood pressures in U.S. soccer circles. Supporters of pro/rel, like the owners of clubs in the United Soccer League (USL) and the North American Soccer League (NASL), the two lower leagues in the U.S., see the system as a gateway to the top tier and the prestige and increased revenues that come along with it. Similarly, the fans gravitate toward the excitement that comes along with a promotion push or fight to avoid relegation—a full 88 percent of U.S. soccer fans surveyed by Deloitte last year said that pro/rel would increase quality of play across the board.

In that vein, supporters argue that the system incentivizes pouring both time and money into increasing the standard of play and investing in player development, and adds excitement to otherwise meaningless late season MLS matches between league bottom feeders. In his exhaustive “U.S. Promotion/Relegation Manifesto” in Howler Magazine, former MLS and NASL executive Peter Wilt writes that the risk of relegation “would ensure pressure on [cellar-dwelling MLS] teams to improve and win, even if the prospects of winning a championship that year are bad.” That pressure would catalyze fan interest and create exciting narrative, much as it does in England and across Europe.

There’s also a certain romance to a provincial lower league side investing wisely in the club and capturing lightning in a bottle to climb the ranks. Who will forget Leicester City’s promotion climb, then furious fight to stave off relegation in 2015, only to win the title in 2016? Or even Sunderland’s annual great escape to avoid the drop?

But MLS owners and United States Soccer Federation (USSF) executives don’t deal in romance. For them, the economics of pro/rel are not worth it for a team that has already attained MLS—and thus top division—status. USSF president Sunil Gulati has argued that it fundamentally changes the rules of the system MLS owners bought into, saying that “if you make an investment today and the next day the government—in this case, us—changes the rules completely and changes the value of your investment? That’s going to lead to some serious problems.”

To be sure, it makes little economic sense for an MLS investor like Robert Kraft or Stan Kroenke, or even David Beckham with his nascent Miami project, to risk losing most of their investment value overnight. In 2016, Forbes valued MLS teams at an average of $185 million; most NASL and USL teams are worth less than $10 million. That gap would close somewhat in an open system, but the difference is still massive.

Further complicating and, in my mind, ending the debate at least temporarily is the oncoming expansion. Last week, MLS fielded bids from 12 cities—Cincinnati, Charlotte and St. Louis, to name a few—for four expansion teams by 2020, to bring the league to 28 teams. Spots 23 and 24 are reserved for the Los Angeles Football Club and the future Miami team. The expansion fee is expected to be a whopping $150 million.

Expansion should put the pro/rel debate to rest at least temporarily for two major reasons. First, even with the exorbitant MLS-set expansion fee, there are 12 ownership groups in place willing to buy into the league, which signals excess demand for MLS franchises. MLS and these investors are not going to upset the status quo in the short term. With an expansion, part of what these ownership groups are investing in is exclusivity. If there is an avenue other than expansion, like promotion, into MLS, the fee the league commands for that exclusive right vastly diminishes along with the value of the franchise.

The other stumbling block is the sheer size of the league. With 28 teams on the horizon and both USL and NASL occupying an odd parallel second-division status thanks to the recent USL jump from third-tier status, it’s a logistical headache to institute a pro/rel system with that many clubs and interests at the table, at least in the short term.

While many fans (myself included) would appreciate the competition and increased incentives to invest in on-field performance and player development that promotion and relegation would bring to the U.S. soccer landscape, with MLS expansion looming and pent-up demand to join the league, pro/rel remains a distant pipe dream.