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Let the battle commence in Oklahoma City, as USL-NASL square off

Jul 3, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

USLsoccer.com USLsoccer.com

A handful of cities across the US and Canada would be happy with just one professional soccer team, but within 24 hours Oklahoma City was awarded two professional franchises by two different leagues.

Umm, yeah. Something is going on here.

On Monday night a Tweet sent out from the North American Soccer League –the second-tier of soccer in the US and Canada — appeared to all but seal an NASL franchise to OKC from 2015. But on Tuesday USL Pro, the third-tier of US soccer, announced that a franchise would start play in Oklahoma City in 2014.

So, in a remarkable twist for the soccer scene in OKC, they went from zero professional team to two in just over a day.

But this story has been rumbling on in court rooms for quite some time, and it seems as though it will continue to take some sorting out as ownership groups and league officials tangle over the details.

So just like that, Oklahoma City joined Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and New York City as the only cities in the USA to have more than one professional soccer franchise. But somehow it might not last.

The NASL are set to ratify the plans for Oklahoma’s NASL franchise during the Board of Governors meeting on July 25 in Dallas, when the ownership group headed by Tim McLaughlin hope to rubber-stamp an NASL franchise in OKC.

However this thing has got real messy, real quickly. Here is a more detailed report of the several law suits filed by the separate ownership groups, USL Pro and PDL side Oklahoma City FC. Like I said, it has got really messy.

This one will take some real sorting out, but if both franchises do get off the ground, it will create an incredible atmosphere in Oklahoma City for a soccer scene to thrive and grow over the coming years.

(MORE: Oklahoma City FC set to become NASL’s newest franchise in 2015?)

Can the City handle both second-tier and third-tier teams? I don’t know. There are some other cities out there that definitely deserve at least one pro soccer franchise before OKC gets two, in my opinion. (See: Detroit, Nashville, Miami, Austin)

Although selfishly, despite all the legal struggles that are set to ensue about having NASL and USL Pro clubs in the same city, I am rather emotional and downright excited that business owners in Oklahoma City are willing to put plenty on the line to bring pro soccer to the Midwest.

Exciting times lie ahead as the U.S. soccer pyramid underneath Major League Soccer continues to strengthen.

  1. wesbadia - Jul 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    So it appears that many assumptions by observers are true — that OKC FC was denied by USL to be “promoted” to USL-Pro, and thus chose to violate their franchise contract by partnering with NASL and attempting to beat their former league to the punch by rushing to the city board and laying claim to Taft Stadium.

    From my perspective, I fail to see how OKC FC and NASL thought this would turn into anything but a controversy. OKC is not a hot bed of soccer culture, despite what some like to say. Attempting to beat another league by rushing together a franchise sounds like disastrous business to me, and it seems like a cheap shot based on past differences between the two organizations. We all know there’s bad blood between the leagues, and this speaks to how true that is.

    I can’t see how NASL gets away with this in the courts. Whoever wins the initial court battle will only be taken to federal court when it’s appealed, which surely it will be considering it deals with “interstate commerce”. OKC FC is obviously in violation of their contract by agreeing to terms with a named “Rival League”. Not sure exactly what USL is legally guilty of, if anything.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this all progresses…

  2. ofcbdj - Jul 10, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    I think you have your facts wrong. Oklahoma is a right to work state. A “non-compete” clause that claims a U-23 amateur league is a “rival league” with the NASL will not hold up in court under Oklahoma law. If you follow the USL’s logic, they would claim the right to keep every PDL ownership group from trying to establish a NASL or MLS franchise and claim that market for the USL?

    Also, if you look at ALL the information, no one rushed to the school board and “layed claim” Both groups presented a proposal to the OKC public schools to lease the renovated TAFT stadium for professional soccer. (you can find this public meeting on-line). The school board voted 8-1 to lease the stadium to the OKC FC group over the Prodigal (USL) group.

    One last thing. Based on the court documents (which can also be found on line), the USL didn’t notify the OKC FC group that they had chosen the Prodigal group for the USL franchise until 1 hour before the school board meeting in which both groups were to make their proposals…….That’s how the USL treats it’s PDL ownership groups?

    Also, the case is filed in Federal Court. One last thing…The USL wants to begin play in 7 months without a venue. The NASL group wants to begin play in 2015 with a newly renovated 7000+ stadium….Who is “rushing together” a franchise?

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