What has become an annual summer soap opera continues in the Major Soccer League.
Another deadline came and went yesterday, and the troubled league was still in operation after the owners met for more than two hours on a teleconference.
"We're still trying to firm up Dallas," said MSL commissioner Earl Foreman after he and the owners listened to the latest negotiations to revive the Dallas Sidekicks and save the league for another season. "I'll have an announcement tomorrow [today] by mid to late afternoon. I can't comment any more on it."
Wichita Wings president Roy Turner, who listened to the teleconference, was a little more specific.
"The owners weren't satisfied with it [Dallas financial situation]," said Turner. "I don't think they want anybody coming into the league that won't be able to make it. Dallas has been given a little more time to work out something."
Turner said the league can't afford to drag out the Dallas situation and the future of the MSL beyond today.
"The decision will be tomorrow," said Turner. "If we're going forward as a league, let's go. If we're not, let's hold our hands up like big boys and say it's over. One day you think you've got it [proper Dallas financing] and the next day you don't."
The Sidekicks are apparently just short of the $450,000 package necessary for the team to operate in the 1991-92 season.
Only six teams (Baltimore Blast, San Diego Sockers, Wichita Wings, Cleveland Crunch, Tacoma Stars and St. Louis Storm) are definite for next season, and seven or eight teams are needed before the owners will agree to continue the MSL for a 14th season.
In addition to the Dallas woes, the expansion Pittsburgh Spirit is uncertain about operating next season.
In another league matter involving the Baltimore Blast, the MSL Players Association has filed a grievance against the Blast for the team's failure to pay midfielder Tim Wittman the injury protection benefit he has been due since July 1, when his contract ran out.
He had arthroscopic knee surgery in March and again in June for cartilage damage. After the first surgery, he played briefly in only one game, March 30 against Cleveland.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, if a player is unable to play at the end of his contract due to an injury suffered during the season, the team is obligated to pay that player a salary based upon next season's scale.
Will Bray, assistant to MSL Players Association director John Kerr, said Wittman is due $2,500 a month from the Blast until doctors say he is ready to play again. The $2,500 a month is the rate for a third-year player in the league, the highest level covered by the injury protection benefit in the CBA.
Blast general manager John Borozzi said last night: "No one in my office has received any notification from the union of a grievance involving Tim Wittman.
"My No. 1 concern and question is to investigate whether or not Tim Wittman was capable of playing at the end of the season. I need to talk to the coach [Kenny Cooper], the trainer [Marty McGinty] and team doctor [Joseph Ciotola] to determine what was Timmy's medical condition at the end of the season."
Wittman said: "I gave everything I had to the franchise for 10 years so it's just fair for them to honor the contract. They've made this into a personal battle [between owner Ed Hale and Wittman] It's pretty sad for young players to read this kind of thing."