Team Owners Association Update 10/15/09
Things have been quiet since the Team Owners Association (TOA), along with members of NuRock Holdings, the new owners of the United Soccer Leagues (USL), met in New York last week. The meetings that took place the week of October 5th and were guided by United States Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati, were said by Brian Wellman, president of the Carolina RailHawks, to sooth tensions amongst the two sides.
It is understood that the parties meeting with Gulati were Carolina RailHawks owner and leader of the TOA, Selby Wellman, Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo, and Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. The other members of TOA participated in some of the discussion via conference call.
The USL was represented by their president Tim Holt, as well as new League owners and Chairman Rob Hoskins and Alec Papadakis CEO.
All parties seem to be in lockdown mode since those meetings. However, Inside Minnesota Soccer has learned that the parties involved with the TOA have been working at a frantic pace, trying to negotiate and figure their next step knowing several deadlines loom if they are to play in either the USL next year or petition USSF and FIFA for a new league.
It has also been learned that the USSF was not in favor of the letter that Tim Holt and the USL sent out to players. The letter from the league told players from TOA teams that they were released from their contracts and that the USSF was releasing them as well. The letter is what prompted Gulati to call for the joint meetings in New York. USSF seemed to back the TOA in regard to that letter and will not release the players registration from USSF as Holt had indicated in the letter.
The Cary News is reporting that Brian Wellman confirmed that the TOA will be meeting again this weekend. IMS believes those meetings will take place near Montreal as both the Impact and the Whitecaps, both members of the TOA, will be playing in the USL-1 final this weekend.
Joey Saputo talked to the Canadian Press on Thursday, saying that he will put his differences with USL aside for now as the Vancouver Whitecaps will travel to Montreal to play the Impact in the 2nd leg of the first all-Canadian USL-1 final. However, Saputo went on to call the letter sent to players from USL a “low-blow tactic” by the league.
“When you are negotiating, there are certain tactics you use and that was a low-blow tactic,” said Saputo. “There was an agreement signed that if we could not come to an agreement that the USL would help in the movement of the teams to a new league or whatever.”
“For them to come out with that type of letter was inappropriate, and I think they realize it was. It caused trouble in Carolina, Minnesota and Miami and it has no merit whatsoever. The players are still under contract, I understand, from a (United States Soccer Federation) point of view.”
“We’ve decided we’ll let the playoffs go through. We’re focused on that now and, after the final, we’ll sit down again and hopefully come to come some sort of agreement.”
Saputo also said that no deadline has been set but that he believes the TOA will reach some sort of a decision by mid-November, which would be right before the USL Annual General Meetings are to begin. Schedules for the upcoming year are hammered out at those AGM’s. Saputo said mid-November was when teams confirmed last year that they would renew with the USL.
However, Selby Wellman told IMS that he expects some decisions will be made by this coming week.