As an American I always wondered why Europeans refereed to soccer’s (football) transfer season as the “silly season”. To a serious sports fan what is possibly silly about the NBA Draft, the NFL trading deadline, or the killed or be killed off-seasons of MLB and the NHL. I mean, these are some serious deals that can make or break a team for years. The transactions that transpire during this time period are far from silly.
Well, let’s enter hometown USSF D2 Pro League American Soccer and the drama that is the Carolina RailHawks and the provisional NASL. Where can we begin in a story that seems to be better fitted to the SOAPnet then a sports column?
For those who do not know, the team formerly known as Carolina RailHawks made it to the USSF Division 2 Finals in 2010 and lose to the Puerto Rico Islanders in what were pretty thrilling games. In a Hollywood movie the story would have ended here, unfortunately for the fans this is just somewhere in the middle. Let’s go back to 2009.
In 2009 the Carolina RailHawks and other like minded soccer clubs decided to leave the USL First Division soccer league to form a better stabilized league that would grant the owner’s more control of their team’s future. They felt that under a different league and a structure that was more owner friendly, a stable division could develop.
It probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but like a forlorn ex-lover the USL wasn’t going to let them go off and lead a happy life with a new family. The whole separation was mired down in sea of lawsuits and counter-suits. In the end the governing body of American Soccer, The US Soccer Federation, made the teams loyal to USL and the teams wanting to form the NASL play one last season in a provisional league while the contract issues were sorted out.
So that takes us back to the end of 2010. The Carolina RailHawks had a great season, the NASL is provisionally granted approval by the USSF and everything looks nice and rosy going into the 2011 soccer season. Nothing silly yet right, just normal sport politics.
Well it would seem that the majority of the teams that wanted to form the NASL are having trouble keeping their own books afloat. Near the end of 2010 the new NASL owned by Traffic Sports took a large stake in the Miami, Atlanta and Minnesota clubs. Then comes the news that the RailHawks themselves had put themselves up for sell and would be folding if they could not find a buyer. It is being reported that Traffic Sports will also acquire the Railhawks .
In the midst of all this drama there is a strong rumor that the USSF will revoked the provisional okay for the NASL to exist as a sanctioned Division Two League. This is in large part of the new league not meeting the stricter requirements they had themselves championed for just a year or so ago. Now you have the possibility of a bunch of soccer teams standing around with no league to kick a ball in. The NASL plans to appeal any such ruling and hope to have something worked out with the USSF before the start of the 2011 season. One would hope so as they have already released the full 2011 regular-season schedule with Carolina and Puerto Rico set for a rematch.
And if you can believe it, the story gets better and better as we come to what is truly silly. The Carolina RailHawks, a club that sent three players to the MLS this year and came in second in the 2010 Finals, auctions off the Carolina RailHawks brand, trademarks, team name, logos, slogans and the domain name www.carolinarailhawks.com on EBAY . Oh, and the team’s mascot Swoop was thrown in for good measure. The winning bidder came away with it for $15,000.
Folks, that is why they call this is the “silly season”. It doesn’t get more sillier then this.
Brian Quarstad ” Carolina RailHawks Trademark and Web Domain Name Goes for $14,999.00 “, IMS Soccer News
Christian Baysden ” Carolina RailHawks Leave USL ” Triangle Business Journal
Brian Quarstad ” Carolina RailHawks 4th NASL Team to be Propped up by Traffic Sports ” IMS Soccer News
Chris Hockman ” NASL rumored to have lost Div. 2 sanctioning ” San Antonio Soccer Examiner