The Carolina RailHawks’ front office maintains the organization will field a team next year in Cary, despite notifications from the United Soccer Leagues on Friday that the RailHawks no longer have a franchise in the league.
Every player on the RailHawks’ roster received an e-mail message Friday that his contract had been terminated, as per the USL Standard Contract for Professional Players.
But RailHawks owner Brian Wellman insists the players are still under contract with Carolina.
«The RailHawks currently — as well as several other franchises — are not renewed as USL franchise at this time,» he said. «At the same time, the players remain under contract with the Carolina RailHawks.»
But because the RailHawks are no longer part of the USL, their players are no longer signed to their current contracts as professional players, according to Tim Holt, USL president, who sent the notification to the players on Friday.
«The professional contracts are limited to just teams that continue to operate as professional property,» Holt said in an interview Saturday. «The RailHawks notified us several times of their decision to remove themselves from the USL.»
According to the e-mail from the USL, the players’ contract reads that «Should the Club fail to operate a professional soccer team within USL, this contract shall be terminated.»
«Our actions were taken based completely on the language in the players’ contracts,» Holt said. «… And this all stems from the team terminating their franchise relationship with the USL, not the other way around.»
Since the league was sold last month, the RailHawks’ owners have been concerned with the direction of the USL and began talks with several other squads about forming a new league.
Among those involved are USL-1 squads Minnesota Thunder and Miami FC, whose players also received the e-mail notification on Friday, Holt said.
Wellman and the other owners held a meeting Saturday morning for about 10 players still in town, in which they took some time to explain the situation and the circumstances with the league, he said.
«We just told them everything that’s going on and what’s happened to this point, basically,» Wellman said. «Honestly, this is really no more than a minor distraction for us now in a lot of other things we’re doing during the offseason.»