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The Situation with AC St. Louis

I am going to try to be very careful with what I say here about AC St. Louis.  Often, when things are written, others misunderstand or misinterpret, either willfully or because things aren’t clearly stated or clearly read.  This is a very emotional time for all of us who love AC St. Louis, so the chance for  misunderstanding  and misstatement is heightened.  And, of course, the blogs and forums online are cranking out a great deal of information, some true, some false, and some I frankly can’t judge.

One thing I want to address first.  Battra13 has made many valuable contributions to the AC St. Louis Fanatic blog, and I hope he continues to do so in the future. His talent and enthusiasm are well appreciated.  He had administrative ability to post independently on this blog that was created in January by Dave Trotter.  Unfortunately, he posted an article on the Fanatic this afternoon  that we knew to be, however well-intentioned and optimistic, inaccurate in fact and especially tone.  The tone of the article was dismissive of the serious financial problems that AC St. Louis are dealing with, and we had to make a decision quickly, because the Fanatic is getting a lot of attention today.  Since his source was unnamed, we had to make the choice to delete the post.  Dave Trotter and I put our names on every article we write, and although we are small fry in the world of soccer journalism, we do value our integrity and our commitment to a realistic representation of AC St. Louis in matters both on and off the field.  You can disagree with our judgements and opinions, but we would never knowingly publish something we know to be untrue.   Battra13’s source was in conflict with the information that both  Dave and I have analyzed by both local and nationally respected writers,  and information that was confirmed independently by another respected source.  We like to give any contributor to the post as much lattitude as possible, but in the case the information was in error.  Nothing personal.  And I don’t mean to imply that because Battra13 chooses to use a moniker that he doesn’t have integrity.  He simply was given bad information.

The bottom line is simple.  AC St. Louis failed to live up to some of its financial obligations.  Those things happen, and don’t necessarily sound a death knell for a franchise.  In our current economic environment, however, where availability of capital is much more limited than even two years ago, the failure to keep up with financial obligations raises a red flag.  Particularily in the sport of professional soccer in the USA.  As much as USSF, MLS, USL and the NASL may disagree about the proper way to market and grow the sport on the club level in our country, all agree that unstable franchises that fold or move to another city leave an ugly landscape across our nation that gives soccer haters more ammunition to say how unpopular our sport is.  The tolerance level by all entities of financially weak franchises is much less than in the past, and rightly so.  At the level of professional sport in which AC St. Louis operates there is no television revenue, and no matter what sport we are talking about, financing is always dicey when the main source of revenue is attendance, concessions and merchandise sales without TV money as a foundation. 

Hopefully this financial situation will be rectified quickly and we’ll laugh at all our anxiety a few years  from now as we sit at the US Open Cup championship cheering on  AC St. Louis playing for the title.  There seems to be three options:  fold the team, acquire more capital and/or revamp the ownership situation partially or totally,  or get financial help from the USSF or the NASL.  There is/was a strong local business entity that looked very likely to provide team shirt sponsorship.  I have no idea where that potential revenue stream for AC St. Louis stands at this point.  The teams’s financial status should be fixable, unless we’ve been misled.

I’m not going to throw anyone involved with this franchise under the bus at this point.  I simply don’t know what decisions were made by which parties at what time, or who was obligated to provide what financially.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and corresponding with many outstanding individuals in this organization, both staff and players, as well as numerous parents of the players and, of course, the fans of AC St. Louis who so quickky have bonded with the team.  We are all anxious right now, and the American soccer community suffers with us.  Everyone who is pure of heart wants a healthy soccer club in St. Louis.  It’s good for the game.  We hope for the best outcome for our team.

Meanwhile, the AC Soccer Fanatic isn’t going anywhere.  We’ll stay on top of developments to the best of our ability.  We want three points Saturday night against Paul Dalglish’ talented FC Tampa Bay Rowdies.  And an enthusiastic crowd.  You fans have done well.

This is a rather embarassing chapter in the history of our franchise.  I feel at this point, however, that it’s not the last chapter,  The AC St. Louis Fanatic blog is 100% supportive of our team.  I haven’t mentioned the St. Louis Athletica, not because we are indifferent, but simply because we have no independent confirmation of what the team’s current status is other than what has been reported.  We have a great women’s team here in St. Louis and we want them to be successful and thrive, too.

Whatever unfolds over the next days, whether Jeff Cooper turns out to be a hero, villain, or simply overreaching, inept or unlucky, don’t forget that he’s the one guy who had the cojones to bring professional soccer to St. Louis and the region.

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6 Responses

  1. Well written guys! However, I can’t help but think that Battra13’s credibility is zero. Never report ‘facts’ when you don’t have the facts.

    I love how St. Louis thinks it’s the soccer hotbed of the US……WAS!

  2. Good article. I don’t follow the blog closely enough to have seen the controversial post you talk about (too bad, now I’m curious ;-).

    But you’re right, we all want AC St. Louis and Athletica to stay strong and competitive. Hang tough; the soccer community is watching and hoping this can be pulled out. Good luck!

  3. As the person who posted the first of the “unfounded” rumors on this site the other day, I find it amusing that you took one post down but left some now hilarious comments up:

    “How stupid are we supposed to think these people are??” – Battra13

    “I don’t know where these rumors about AC St. Louis being bankrupt started, but whoever started them either has an agenda or is hitting the crack pipe too often.” – Gerry Wittman

    “To be honest with you, I’m really not worried about this at all.” – Battra13

    You tied your wagon to a BS artist, then you tried to stick your head in the sand, and now you’re paying the price. Unfortunately soccer in St. Louis is too. Time for the expose on what Jeff Cooper really is. His house of cards has come down.

    And what about Anelka? He brings the investors to the mix, he gets your coaching job as a result, the investors default (shocker!) and he’s a poor victim of circumstance. LOL.

    More heads in the sand.

  4. I agree with Pliney. Gerry Wittman’s credibility is zero also. To write a blog is great. But to say people are hitting the crack pipe before looking at any truth’s is quite frankly unnacceptable!

    Where is Battra? Writing a blog about Slingers?

    Well done Pliney!

  5. I find it incredulous that this author would refuse to recognize that the fate of AC St. Louis and the Athletica are not intertwined. All the roads here lead to unethical behavior of Jeff Cooper.

    It is reported that Cooper sold his controlling in the club last fall. LAST FALL? That was before AC St. Louis was formed. As a non-owner, Cooper became the face of NASL, he became the Interim Commissioner of NASL, and he created enough lies to convince Baltimore and Rochester to move away from USL and into NASL.

    Cooper = NASL. Cooper/NASL has damaged Division II soccer in this country and further, Cooper has risked the future of WPS in this country as well.

    Not a bad day’s work for a guy who is purported to be the key visionary for soccer in mainstream America.

  6. I do owe Pliney an apology. Even though I have no idea who he is, he did include a source. And I shouldn’t have used the term “hitting the crack pipe.” Its a slang term for not believing something, not meant literally. I didn’t put stock in the source cited because……
    1). In the comments, Devo reports that Rhinos owner Rob Clark wouldn’t dignify the claim of CP Baltimore and AC being financially stricken.
    2). Never heard of Devo, and someone wrote that he was anti-NASL. Mistake.
    3). Someone asks in the comments if the Rhinos-CP Baltimore game is still going to come off — I had just watched part of that game a few hours before, making me think the reports of financial distress are false or exaggerated..
    4), No other reports that I was aware of at that time of AC’s financial distress — the first articles on MLS Talk and IMS came out LATER that day.

    One more thing about battra13 and I’m done with that. He never claimed to be a soccer expert. His writing on this blog was basically about fan sections at games and watch parties. What he posts on our response sections to articles or comments at other places on the internet is his right. We don’t censor the responses….again we believe in freedom of speech. Maybe that’s something we should rethink?

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