Phoenix FC had momentum.
Things were moving forward and seemed to be falling into place. Then came Tuesday.
Phoenix FC, a USL PRO club heading into its second season, had been working with Brazilian businessman Andre Chaves on a potential sale and (through Chaves) a partnership with Brazilian first-division club Botafogo. It was a deal that was supposed to go through this week.
Chaves told ODFCnews.com on Sunday that he and Phoenix FC Managing Director Rui Filipe Bento had recently reached a deal for Chaves to buy a percentage of the franchise, a transaction that had been in the works since last November. Chaves made an offer, Bento accepted and administrative matters were being lined up in order to find the best path to a partnership.
The deadline for Chaves to sign and officially buy a percentage of the club was Tuesday. Chaves said calls to Bento and Phoenix FC owner Tim Donald went unanswered on Monday until Donald called him on Tuesday and said USL CEO Alec Papadakis did not approve the merger. So there will be no sale or partnership.
But here’s the kicker: Chaves doesn’t believe Donald, telling ODFCnews.com the USL had already offered Chaves — and potentially Botafogo — a franchise in two other cities. Chaves declined to say which cities.
A sale and partnership could have helped Phoenix FC financially. ODFCnews.com reported last week that the USL isn’t allowing the club to register and sign players for the upcoming season until it pays off its debts from last season.
Phoenix FC is now five days away from when its preseason is supposed to start and 27 days from its season opener. The club started selling 2014 season tickets last Friday.
There have been rumors since November that Phoenix FC officials were actually talking to two groups for a potential sale or takeover. If Phoenix FC decided not to go with Chaves, it may be lining up a deal with the other group.
The league declined comment on this story on Wednesday. ODFCnews.com also contacted Phoenix FC on Wednesday and is awaiting a response.
Chaves, who is 38, lives in Rio de Janeiro, was a former adviser to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro and currently manages a communications agency and his family’s farming business, isn’t happy with how his potential deal with Phoenix FC ended. Chaves tried accelerating the process by connecting Phoenix FC with Botafogo. Chaves said he and Botafogo President Mauricio Assumpção are friends. Assumpção had even told Brazilian press in January that a partnership will happen and that Botafogo will send four players on loan to Phoenix FC for the 2014 season.
Chaves told ODFCnews.com that he will now either buy one of the USL franchise rights that was offered to him or talk with the NASL about bringing a second-division club to Phoenix.
NOTE: The University of New Mexico men’s soccer team announced on Wednesday that it will face Phoenix FC and FC Tucson in friendlies next month. The Lobos will face the Wolves on at 7 p.m. on March 15 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande and then FC Tucson on May 3 in Tucson.