IMS has learned today that AC St. Louis General Manager Tim Owen made phone calls to his players on Sunday informing them the club would not be in operation next season. The phone calls were made in an effort to make sure players could make other arrangements for the 2011 season.
The news will surely come as a disappointment to St. Louis fans who had held hope of Ryan Woods purchasing the team and saving AC St. Louis.
IMS revealed in September that Woods, a 35-year-old St. Louis real estate developer, was working on a deal to purchase the team and had even expressed interest in bringing MLS to St. Louis. But the deal seemed to get bogged down with details of Woods’ current real estate deals including the Richmond Heights proposal. The huge redevelopment project included plans for a new soccer stadium as an entertainment component.
AC St. Louis is still currently owned by both Jeff Cooper and the Vaid brothers who reside in Europe. Woods had been dealing with both parties and was believed to have worked out a deal with Cooper but was originally having trouble with the Vaids. IMS doesn’t know exactly what killed the deal but the loss of Woods surely ends the team’s involvement with the newly sanctioned Division II league, the NASL.
It was just under a year ago that AC St. Louis owner Jeff Cooper held a press conference to announce that he would field a team that would play in the 2nd division in 2010. His team AC St. Louis would end a 30-year drought of professional outdoor soccer for citizens of St. Louis. But the team started having financial issues after Cooper sold a portion of the team and his WPS team Athletica to the Vaids. The new partners stopped making payments to Cooper and soon the organization was struggling. Eventually Cooper folded Athletica in midseason and it took help from US Soccer to keep AC St. Louis afloat through the end of their season.
Edited 8:00 p.m.
AC St. Louis released a statement this afternoon in reference to the IMS article.
ST. LOUIS, MO (November 23, 2010) – AC St. Louis would like to state that despite unsubstantiated reports to the contrary the club has yet to make any final decisions with respect to their participation in the upcoming 2011 season.
These reports apparently stem form the club’s decision to not renew club options in the contracts of some players.