Thunder rumbling about Spirit game Denver reportedly threatens a walkout: no pay, no play

December 11, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Denver Thunder coach Paul Kitson vows his team will sho up for Sunday's game here against the Spirit despite a threatened walkout by his players.

Since some investors backed out before the season, the team has had financial problems to the point where it was unable to meet the players' payroll. An unidentified player told the Denver Post the players haven't been paid and that they wouldn't play the Spirit unless they are.

"We're owed a few paychecks, that's true," Kitson said. "There have been financial problems the last three or four weeks, but they're being taken care of. We're getting new investors. It'll be done by tomorrow [today]. We'll fly into Baltimore on Saturday."

Thunder players said that Kitson had left town and that they didn't expect him to return unless the financial problems were resolved.

"I was out of town for a week to attend to family problems in New Jersey," Kitson said, laughing at the players' speculation about his absence. "I came back Wednesday and we had practice yesterday morning."

Spirit vice president Drew Forrester said the report that the Thunder might not show up Sunday was "ludicrous."

"I was just on the phone with them, setting up hotel and van arrangements, even deciding on uniform colors," Forrester said. "They'll be here, no question."

Steve Paxos, National Professional Soccer League commissioner, dispatched director of operations Paul Luchowski to Denver yesterday to help unravel "a few minor problems."

"The Thunder will play in Baltimore on Sunday and in Denver against St. Louis on Tuesday -- you can take that to the bank," Paxos said from the league's headquarters in Canton, Ohio.

"I've talked to nine of their players on the phone and there don't seem to be problems. There's just one disgruntled player who really isn't representative of the whole group. I'm not 100 percent sure who he is."

Adrian Dater, who wrote the Post story, declined to reveal the name of the player he quoted.

"The nine guys I talked to said there were minor problems with the payroll, nothing that couldn't be worked out," Paxos said. "They told me that if I wanted them to be in Baltimore, they would."

Asked if the league would pay the players if the Thunder couldn't, Paxos said, "We'll do what needs to be done to be sure the team continues the season."

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