Phoenix FC has 11 days before its preseason begins and 37 days before its 2014 season begins.
The second-year USL PRO club also has that time span to sign players. It has yet to sign any. Because first, it must pay the money it owes from last season.
According to sources, USL PRO is not allowing Phoenix FC to even register players for the upcoming season until the club eliminates its debt and pays players from last season it still owes money to. The club may also have to pay what is owed to various vendors from last season.
Phoenix FC Managing Director Rui Filipe Bento denied the claims when ODFCnews.com asked about it after the club’s last open tryout session earlier this month.
But according to sources, Phoenix FC has not registered any players with the league and still has to meet the conditions of paying their debts from last season.
In January, former Phoenix FC player Elliot Weber posted on Phoenix FC’s Fabeook page that the team still owes money to players. ODFCnews.com has heard some amounts are in “the thousands.”
Phoenix FC’s former ownership group, BDR Sports, LLC, had their USL PRO franchise rights terminated by the league last November. In the letter that USL PRO sent to BDR Sports, LLC, one of the reasons for termination was failure “to pay its players in a timely fashion during the course of the 2013 season” and “failed to carry worker’s compensation for a period of time during the 2013 season.”
USL PRO then awarded the franchise rights to American Soccer Marketing, LLC, who is owned by Tim Donald, who was the team’s acting president since March. BDR Sports, LLC may not be owners of Phoenix FC anymore, but the team’s management, who were members of BDR Sports, remains the same. Bento and coach David Robertson are still with the team.
ODFCnews.com contacted a league official Friday morning for a statement on the situation and is awaiting a response.
Update (12:55 p.m. Arizona time): USL PRO declined comment for this story.
Relief or help with this financial situation may be coming to Phoenix FC in the form of a partnership with Brazilian power Botafogo and a potential sale to either the club or Brazilian businessman Andre Chaves.
Chaves had told Phoenix FC fan John McPherson on Twitter that a deal may be done on Thursday. Late Thursday night, Chaves told McPherson on Twitter that “everything went as expected” and that he and Bento “will have good news soon.”
ODFCnews.com had contacted Chaves twice this week and is awaiting his response.
Meanwhile, several former Phoenix FC players have signed with new clubs. Two have signed with MLS clubs, goalkeeper Andrew Weber signed with the Portland Timbers and defender/midfielder Donny Toia signed with Chivas USA. Three signed with other USL PRO teams, defenders Cyprian Hedrick and Peabo Doue signed with Oklahoma City Energy FC and midfielder/forward Cameron Vickers signed with the Dayton Dutch Lions. And forward Aaron King signed with NASL club Carolina Railhawks.
Several players are expected to return to Phoenix FC this season, though they will have to wait for their new contracts until the club’s debts are paid.