The A-League has rescinded the franchise operating rights of Atlanta Ruckus owner Vincent Lu, and will replace the Ruckus for the remainder of the current season with another Atlanta-based team.
Citing numerous violations of A-League rules and minimum standards, commissioner Francisco Marcos said the league could no longer continue to work with Lu, whose team became a member of the 28-team A-League under terms of the merger between the old American Professional Soccer League and USISL, Inc.
"Vincent Lu's league membership rights to the city of Atlanta are hereby revoked," said Marcos. "We have taken steps to form a new team, made up of top local players, that will finish out the season in Atlanta."
The latest development leading to the league action was Lu's refusal to send Atlanta's regular team to a June 13 game at Long Island.
"This decision has little to do with the club's financial condition," Marcos said. "It goes beyond the issue of money. We stayed with Vincent Lu for two trying years, out of respect for the spirit of the merger agreement. But, in the big picture, we could no longer tolerate the team's repeated violation of league and administrative rules."
Marcos said that the Ruckus likely would have lost its franchise rights anyway, because Lu is the only owner in the 134-team USISL system (which includes the A-League) who had not signed a franchise agreement. In addition, the Ruckus has failed to meet routine league financial obligations and has refused to respond to repeated requests for compliance.
"We had talks with Mr. Lu at our annual league meeting last November," added Marcos. "Key members of our executive committee have tried to convince him to comply with the most elementary of league regulations. But he has not complied and, from the standpoint of the other 27 teams in the A-League, enough is enough."
A-League rules require each team to post a letter of credit which can be cashed in the case of an emergency. The new Atlanta team will operate off this letter of credit, as well as receive help from USISL, Inc., which operates the A-League, to ensure that the team meets 16 remaining dates on the league schedule.
The Ruckus finished sixth in the A-League in 1997 with a 12-16 record. During the regular season, the team attracted a total of 33,687 fans at 14 home dates for an average attendance of 2,406.
The league also announced that U.S. Pro-40 Select will take the place of Atlanta in a road game against the Hershey Wildcats scheduled for tonight. The new Atlanta team will finish the remainder of the 1998 A-League schedule, as well as play a make-up game against Hershey at a later date.
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