Sidekicks, MSL face deadline today Dallas must raise $100,000 to play

August 12, 1991|By Bill Free

In most professional sports, $100,000 isn't a lot of money anymore.

But it would be hard to get Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman to agree with that these days. Foreman has been working feverishly for a week to find an investor to put up the final $100,000 to revive the Dallas Sidekicks and save the league.

The Sidekicks need $100,000 to complete a $450,000 package necessary for the team to operate in the 1991-92 season. The deadline for coming up with that money is today at 1 p.m., when the league owners meet by teleconference to hear the results of the Dallas negotiations.

Most team officials say the MSL owners will decide to fold the league if Foreman and Dallas president Gordon Jago are unsuccessful in their attempts to complete the package that includes a $350,000 letter of credit and $100,000 in operating fees.

Even the eternally optimistic Foreman has said: "If Dallas doesn't come through, it looks bad for the league."

Only six teams (Baltimore Blast, San Diego Sockers, Wichita Wings, Cleveland Crunch, Tacoma Stars and St. Louis Storm) are definite for next season now that the Kansas City Comets have ceased operations and officials of the Pittsburgh expansion team has expressed reservations about going forward in light of the league's problems.

The league needs seven or eight teams before the owners will agree to play.

Investors in the Pittsburgh group, headed by former Pittsburgh Pirates senior vice president Bernie Mullin, have withheld their // money until something more definite is known about the MSL's future. That decision has left the team without a coach and players with a little more than two months before the season is scheduled to start.

Now, Mullin is saying there isn't enough time to put together a team.

Meanwhile, the Dallas situation is so shaky that few league officials are optimistic.

Cleveland Crunch public relations director Scott Hood said, "It looks bad."

Baltimore Blast assistant general manager Drew Forrester said, "It's 50-50."

Wichita Wings president Roy Turner was one of the few to sound an optimistic note when he said Friday night: "My latest vibes are optimistic, but this is the first time I've had those vibes. It's close [a deal to save Dallas] and in the works."

Turner said the Wings were going "full blast" with plans for next season.

Even though today is supposed to be a deadline, Foreman has left an opening for the decision to be delayed until Wednesday, when the letters of credit are due from all the teams.

"We can't wait any later than Wednesday," said Foreman.

This is the second crisis for the league in seven days.

Last Monday, the owners reportedly were ready to fold the league at 3 p.m., when it was thought that the players' union had rejected rollbacks in the collective bargaining agreement.

But, according to Forrester, John Kerr, director of the MSL Players Association, called at 2:59 to say the players basically had accepted the rollbacks, which included a reduction in the team salary cap from $655,000 to $525,000 and in maximum individual salary from $72,000 to $60,000.

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