Blast is close to dealing Wright back to Sockers

October 26, 1991|By Bill Free

The Baltimore Blast was close to sending midfielder Paul Wright back to the San Diego Sockers last night for $10,000 in cash and a third-round selection in the 1992 Major Soccer League draft.

San Diego also agreed to pay Wright the $12,500 back salary that Baltimore was ordered to pay Wright Wednesday by arbitrator George Nicolau, said Blast vice president and director of soccer operations Drew Forrester.

The deal was expected to be finalized late last night after the team's game against the Wichita Wings in Wichita, Kan.

Forrester said all that was needed to complete the trade was for "San Diego to clear up a few minor things."

Forrester said the deal would have been completed sooner if San Diego had not sought to give Baltimore a third-round pick in 1993 instead of 1992.

"We needed some help sooner than 1993," said Forrester.

The deal was virtually consummated three hours before Wright was scheduled to fly to Baltimore. Forrester said the Blast had asked the MSL Players Association that it not be required to fly Wright to Baltimore since the trade was close to complete.

Nicolau had ordered Wednesday that the Blast have a ticket for a flight to Baltimore in Wright's hand by midnight last night if Wright had not been traded by that time.

Forrester said the Blast decided not to break up its team for Wright because "we weren't convinced that he really wanted to play here. If he had wanted to play for the Blast, he would have been here in July."

Forrester also said: "During the grievance hearing Wright testified that he was working telethons and making appearances for San Diego during the summer even though he was our property. That's why we were shocked when the arbitrator ruled that we owed Paul $12,500 in back pay."

Wright was claimed on waivers by the Blast late in June and his contract began with Baltimore on July 1.

Wright said he couldn't report to Baltimore on July 1 for a physical or make public relations appearances because his mother was ill in San Diego and his contract with the Sockers didn't call for him to make personal appearances in the off-season.

The Blast said it could not pay Wright as long as he was in San Diego because other players on the team were required to make appearances during the off-season if they were under contract.

When the Blast did not pay Wright for July and August, he refused to report to training camp Sept. 17 and was placed on the suspended list without pay and didn't count on the roster.

Wright then filed a grievance against the Blast for failing to uphold his San Diego contract.

Blast coach Kenny Cooper put together a 16-man roster without saving a spot for Wright because "Paul said he wasn't going to report to us."

Wright has denied that he ever refused to report to Baltimore. He said; "All I wanted was my money and then I would report."

Cooper has charged that San Diego coach Ron Newman talked Wright into not reporting to Baltimore after he was picked up on waivers by the Blast.

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