USL owners pursue options after Nike sells league - Canadian Press

Leading clubs in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, including the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, voiced discontent Monday at Nike's decision last week to sell the league to NuRock Soccer of Atlanta. A statement from the USL-1 Team Owners Association said they would "pursue all options" for next season. The USL-1 clubs want a league that is owned and controlled by its teams. The owners said they were "extremely disappointed" with the sports equipment company's decision to sell the league to NuRock. Nike will become a league sponsor. The TOA "now re-confirms its commitment to achieving a team-owner controlled league and will pursue all avenues to do that," it said, adding that corporate ownership "has stunted the growth and recognition of both the league and its teams." It wants to restructure the league according to international rules established by FIFA, the sport's world governing body, which demands that leagues be run by their teams. The USL has had corporate ownership for all of its nearly 25-year history. It was previously owned by Umbro, which was bought by Nike last year. NuRock's chief executive officer is Alex Papadakis, a former player with Atlanta and Boston in the defunct North American Soccer League. NuRock reportedly has rights to acquire USL-1 teams in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. He will now be CEO of the league, while NuRock chairman Rob Hoskins will become league chairman, USL announced from its headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Tim Holt, the USL vice-president and COO, will remain with the league as president while Francisco Marcos, who founded the league in 1986, will be president emeritus and senior director of international development. Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.