Submitted by jmikeblake on 10/07/2009 – 13:11
SwakeSports

RailHawks president Brian Wellman said meetings called by United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati may have «stabilized» a lot of the tension between the new ownership of the United Soccer League (USL) and Team Owners Association (TOA).

Wellman said his father and majority owner Selby Wellman was representing the RailHawks at the meetings in New York City that were scheduled for Tuesday and have continued into today.

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It was the first time the USL leaders, Alec Papadakis and Rob Hoskins — the ownership team of NuRock Soccer Holdings that purchased the USL in late August — and USL president Tim Holt had met with all representatives of the TOA under the same roof.

«It seemed like at least a lot of the tension has stabalized because everyone finally got to meet face-to-face and everyone knows what everyone’s goals are,» Brian Wellman said.

Outside of that, Wellman said most everything else is up in the air.

«Outside of that, there’s nothing definitive.»

The dispute between the league and the TOA hit a boiling point on Friday when the USL e-mailed players from the RailHawks and other TOA member franchises saying that not only were those respective franchises no longer in the USL, its players had been released from their contracts.

«I think a lot of positives just came out of a face-to-face meeting as opposed to e-mails, phone calls and things that… communication can get out of context when it’s done over the internet and not the old-fashioned way.»

If you think it’s odd that this is the first time those face-to-face meetings have taken place, Wellman said the TOA requested a face-to-face meeting immediately after NuRock’s purchase of the USL. The USL leader group insisted they meet with each individual team instead.

«We definitely wanted to meet with them first and foremost, but they wanted to do it a separate way,» Wellman said. «So yesterday was the first time they all got together.»

So where does this leave the RailHawks? Are they any closer to forming a separate league with other TOA members or is a return to the USL more promising? Wellman, who has said the RailHawks will play next year in some capacity, said those answers are too far off to determine presently.

«I couldn’t give that now. I wouldn’t know where to begin with that. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but at the same time there’s still a time factor so a lot of work is going to have to get done in a short amount of time.»

In an interview on Monday, Wellman noted that a decision needs to be reached within the «next 30 days.» The fall is when teams must re-sign players (the RailHawks have «6-8» players they are hoping to re-sign according to Wellman) and create next year’s schedule, among other things.

With USSF officials due in London within the next 24 hours, Wellman said it may be towards the end of the week before anything resolute is determined. For now, at least cooler heads have prevailed.

«I don’t know what the next step is. Again, I haven’t gotten enough information from the guys. I’m sure after today and into tomorrow we’ll get an idea what the next step is for sure.»

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