USL Files First of What Could Be Many Lawsuits
On the same day that Jeff Cooper, spokesperson for the newly proposed second division soccer league called the North American Soccer League (NASL), pulled out all the bells and whistles to announce their newest team, AC Saint Louis, the United Soccer Leagues filed the first of what could be many lawsuits. Many of those following the drama of the two leagues believe yesterday’s announcement of AC St. Louis was strategically timed. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) met Sunday with both warring sides and has now formed a Professional League Task Force to help clarify or decide which league will move forward in hosting second division soccer in the US. Officials from US Soccer asked for documents from both parties. IMS learned that the USSF requested stadium leases be turned into that task force by today. A stadium lease would clearly show a team has taken concrete steps to field a team for the 2010 season. It was suggested that US Soccer may make a decision as early as next week.
While USL most likely knew Cooper and his investment group would announce their team on Tuesday, they took the opportunity to counter by following through on their threats of litigation against those involved with the newly proposed league. Kartik Krishnaiyer broke the story this morning at The Kartik Report. The USL has filed a suit in the Hillsborough county court in Florida. The defendants are the Rochester Rhinos, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace FC USA.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Crystal Palace (CPFC) both made a decision several weeks ago to move to the newly proposed NASL. Inside sources told IMS that CPFC had a 500 thousand dollar bond placed with the USL. All USL teams have to secure a bond before the season starts to insure the league in case a team pulls out or folds. IMS was told the bond amount CPFC paid is consistent for a USL-1 team. A few weeks prior to CPFC’s announcement, the USL suggested CPFC would be moving up to USL-1 from USL-2 where they had previously played.
IMS was told Tampa signed a 2-year agreement with the USL but Team Owners Association attorneys had consulted with Tampa and suggested they would have cause to break the agreement.
It was reported that Rochester, who has been wavering throughout the last year, was late in making a commitment to USL this season. They eventually gave the USL a verbal agreement that they would sign. It’s unknown whether the team owned by Rob Clark actually signed a 1-year agreement with the USL. Clark announced on the 30th of November he had switched allegiances and was now convinced the NASL had a better business plan and was moving forward with the organization.
It’s rumored the USL has threatened other members of the TOA with lawsuits. Some people involved with the issue have gone as far as suggesting the USL could sue the USSF if they give the second division league rights to the TOA.
The USSF now has a dilemma on their hands. It looks as if the USL has the upper hand legally in this issue and as reported in the podcast I appeared on yesterday, the USL may win because of the legalities.
Public sentiment seems clearly on the side of the NASL at this point. Even if USL does prevail in this dispute, there will most likely be a public backlash. The USSF will have to deal with that backlash and no matter what the decision will not come out looking good. They may be forced to make a decision from a legal standpoint and not for what is in the best interest of soccer in the US. This leaves US Soccer with a scenario they most likely are not happy with at a time when they are attempting a World Cup bid. It’s been reported by those associated with US Soccer that they are disappointed with both sides and were hoping they could have come to terms on their own.
There may not be many winners in this situation — except for NuRock Holdings and Francisco Marcos, owners of the USL.
Please see The Kartik Report for this breaking story and links to the actual court documents.