Futures of MISL's San Diego, Monterrey teams up in air

Ownership problem hurts Sockers

Fury may survive

Pro Soccer

December 21, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

The Major Indoor Soccer League seems poised to lose one or perhaps two teams in the coming weeks unless financial and managerial problems are resolved.

In Baltimore, Blast owner Ed Hale said the San Diego Sockers are history and the Monterrey (Mexico) Fury could survive.

"I believe San Diego has died an inglorious death because of a bad owner," Hale said. "Monterrey's owner told me today they will get in compliance with league rules. We'll see."

The Sockers have no owner, and Monterrey has no arena in which to play home games.

Raj Kalra, who began this season as the owner of the Sockers, wrote bad checks to the league and never completed his letter of credit of about $500,000. The MISL has been paying the San Diego players from league funds.

Wednesday, in a conference call, the league's board of directors disassociated themselves from Kalra, placing him in default. They also postponed the Sockers' Saturday home game with Cleveland.

And they voted Monterrey, under a new ownership group but playing only road games this season, could continue if it meets the league's standards of operations. That primarily means reaching an agreement with the operators of Arena de Monterrey so the Fury can play home games.

"No. 1, Mr. Kalra failed to deliver on both his letter of credit and in meeting his financial obligations to players, staff, arena and several outside vendors," said MISL commissioner Steve Ryan.

"Our board of directors put Mr. Kalra into default. He is no longer associated with the team, and we are vigorously pursuing options to stay in San Diego."

Asked if those options included talking to prospective new owners, Ryan was quick to point out he had not suggested there were owner prospects.

"We are vigorously pursuing opportunities in Southern California because of a real desire to stay in San Diego," he said. "The Sockers have a very long and storied history and they have a very nice team. The feeling of the league is that we vigorously work at this."

Hale, who sounded noticeably irked by the situation, said he is aware of no options.

"If Steve has something, he hasn't shared it with me," Hale said. "San Diego deserves better than this."

It seems every few years the MISL, which began this season with nine teams, weeds out its weakest members. That the Fury, in only its second year, is one of the teams in trouble is not surprising. That the Sockers are on the bubble is.

"I don't know what's going on," said San Diego's veteran goalkeeper Victor Nogueira. "All I know is we were given the week off."

Asked if he would seek another team should the Sockers be shut down, Nogueira, 45, said, "No. I would retire."

Monterrey's franchise has been in disarray since its inception. Last season, it was forced to forfeit several games because it was using ineligible players.

On Oct. 21, the league board voted to terminate the ownership of Alvaro Ordonez. At that point, Cemex, a billion-dollar, multinational cement company that already owned five soccer teams, including the Monterrey Tigres, voiced an interest in the indoor game and presented the league with a letter of intent.

"They've had hardship trying to reach agreement with the arena over broadcast rights and other issues," said Ryan. "But both teams are still operating. There are no suspensions of operation right now. And I hope to have some answers to present to our board some time in the next one to two weeks."

San Diego is scheduled to play its next game Jan. 2. If it does, Hale will be among the most surprised.

"I don't think their postponed game will ever be rescheduled," Hale said.

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