Just when the battle for professional soccer in Oklahoma City seemed to reach its peak, a clash took on a new level of intensity on Monday.
In response to a “cease and desist” letter sent by the United Soccer Leagues, a lawsuit was filed by Sold Out Strategies, Brad Lund, DeBray Ayala, Sean Jones and Donna Clark. The lawsuit against the USL is over the “Covenant Not to Compete” clause in their “Franchise Agreement.”
The lawsuit came a day before Prodigal LLC was expected to formally announce the approval of a USL team coming to Oklahoma City. A press conference is still scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Devon Tower.
On June 17, Lund, the managing partner of Sold Out Strategies, was awarded a two-year lease plus renewal option by Oklahoma City Public Schools for Taft Stadium. Sold Out Strategies wants to bring a North American Soccer League team to the city in 2015.
“The ‘Covenant Not to Compete' is not enforceable under Oklahoma law, because we believe it violates (public) policy in its breadth,” said attorney Kiran Phansalkar, who represents Sold Out Strategies. “We hope that a federal judge in Oklahoma City will consider and rule in our favor, which would allow these individuals, if they so choose, to move forward with their efforts or involvement, if they choose, with the North American Soccer League.”
The lawsuit said: “ ... Mr. Jones, Ms. Clark, Mr. Lund and Mr. Ayala, each received a letter from the USL's attorneys threatening to sue each of them if they did not immediately abandon the idea of a NASL men's professional team in the Oklahoma City area. In addition to threatening to sue (the) plaintiffs, the USL has sent letters to both the board and Mr. McLaughlin.”
Oklahoma City resident Tim McLaughlin has emerged as a leader of the NASL group, and his associates will continue their pursuit of a franchise so a team can be established in Oklahoma City.
Bill Peterson, the NASL commissioner, invited McLaughlin to the league's board of governors meeting on July 25 in Dallas. McLaughlin could make a presentation about his vision for NASL soccer in Oklahoma City.