The United Soccer League and the owners that form a proposed rival league have traded punch for counterpunch since that team of owners announced plans to start play in 2010.
For a timeline look at things:
Aug. 27 - Nike sells the USL to NuRock soccer holdings instead of the team of owners. The owners are believed to be considering a new soccer league.
Oct. 3 - The USL releases players from Carolina, Minnesota and Miami, stating that they own the contracts to each team and the team's decision to leave the league makes them null and void. Left out of this was Montreal and Vancouver, which were playing in the USL final and are successful enough to plan for jumps to the MLS. However, the players remained with their teams as the owners maintained the USL did not, in fact, own the contracts.
Nov. 3 - Minnesota, mired in debt, releases its players for real this time. It had previously lost its general manager and coach.
Nov. 10 - Carolina, Minnesota, Miami, Vancouver, Montreal, Atlanta and St. Louis submit an application for a new league to the United States Soccer Federation. This is one team shy of the 8-team minimum the USSF normally requires as Tampa was dropped from the initially rumored list.
Nov. 20 - Tampa and Baltimore are added to the list, which is significant because it gives the new league nine teams — one more than eight should Minnesota fold (more on that on Sunday). However, the USL struck back later that day with a release vowing to pursue all (legal?) actions to keep Tampa and Baltimore in the USL. The USL says it believes the TOA is meddling with current USL teams under contract for the 2010 season.
Like I said, we'll have more on this tomorrow, but let's look at something else to watch out for in the coming weeks. Will more teams jump to the new league from the USL? This didn't make it into our Q&A with RailHawks owner Selby Wellman this past week, but it probably should have. Here, he says that there are teams not only looking to jump from the USL, but ones who haven't paid the franchise fee.
Q: Just to be clear, you never paid the [USL franchise fee] for this upcoming year right?
A: No, I got out several months ago.
Q: Was there a team that did pay the fee but is leaving the USL?
A: Not in our group. There's a few others in the league now that still haven't paid the fee. They're kind of sitting on the fence waiting to see what will happen.
So what teams could he be talking about? Read into it what you will, but when I asked him about possibly moving to the FIFA calendar in the new league, the name Rochester came up. This question didn't make it in the story because, well, we'll cross that bridge when it gets there. The new league should have a name before it worries about what months to play in. Maybe Rochester was just a slip-up or an accidental reference, but like I said, I'm just throwing it out there for you to decide. One thing's for sure, the back-and-forth between the spinoff league (get a name already so I can stop calling it "rebel" and "spinoff" over and over!) and the USL is nowhere near done yet.
Q: Is there any talk about switching to the FIFA calendar?
A: There’s nothing serious in the time. Now, FIFA likes that, for everyone to be on the same calendar but you’ve got all these objections. We’ve got teams up in Rochester, Minnesota, Montreal and Vancouver. So there’s some objection to it. Now the answer to it is really not all that difficult. The way they do it over in Europe – they have cold weather over there too – so what they do is basically take two seasons. They usually start about August and end around April. But what they’ll do is split it. They’ll play from August till like December. Then they’ll take a big ol’ break during the cold months and maybe do some friendly matches and things like that in between. And then they’ll start the second half of the season late February/March. That’s how we’d do it in the United States to get around the weather problem. To me, that’s probably several years down the road.