OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - A group trying to bring professional soccer to Oklahoma City asked a judge to toss out a no-compete provision in a franchise agreement the group signed with the United Soccer League.
Sold Out Strategies et al. sued the United Soccer League in Federal Court. It seek reliefs from a franchise agreement, claiming the USL misled it about its chances of bringing a professional team to Oklahoma City.
Managers Brian Lund and Debray Ayala and city residents Sean Jones and Donna Clark are co-plaintiffs.
The USL operates men's and women's professional and amateur leagues throughout the country.
The plaintiffs, who formed OKC PDL LLC, signed a franchise agreement with the USL on Dec. 11, 2012 to bring an amateur team to Oklahoma City.
The agreement contains a provision prohibiting OKC PDL from owning any soccer team - professional or amateur - in a rival league for two years after the expiration or termination of the franchise agreement, the complaint states.
The plaintiffs say Sold Out Strategies, Jones and Clark were required to sign the agreement, but Lund and Ayala were not.
The plaintiffs say asked the USL both before and during the creation of the amateur team if they could bring a professional team to Oklahoma City. They claim the USL told them "they did not need to worry; OKC PDL and the USL were now 'partners;' and OKC PDL needed to focus on getting its amateur team up and running."
Then a third party entered the picture, and submitted an application to bring a professional team to Oklahoma City.
"Obviously, as an existing franchisee and 'partner,' OKC PDL expected its
application would at least be given a good faith consideration," the complaint states. "OKC PDL also expected its application to be held in strictest confidence.
"However, when OKC PDL got the official notice that someone else had
submitted an application, they also discovered that the USL had doubled the franchisee fee from $250,000 to $500,000.
"Not to be dissuaded, plaintiffs and another party, [nonparty] Tim McLaughlin, submitted an application to the USL for a men's professional franchise."
The plaintiffs say the USL went silent after they submitted their application.
"After finally resigning themselves to the fact that something wasn't quite
right, the group began looking at the possibility of obtaining a men's professional
franchise from the North American Soccer League," the complaint states. "The North American Soccer League or 'NASL' is defined as a 'Rival League' in the Franchise Agreement.
"The group knew they were going to need a larger stadium in order to obtain
a men's professional soccer team, so they decided to submit a proposal to the Oklahoma City Board of Education to lease Taft Stadium. Their competitor for the USL professional franchise also submitted a proposal to the Board.
"The competing proposals were presented to the Board on June 17, 2013. In
a case of unusual timing, the USL announced less than an hour before the presentations that it had decided to give the USL professional franchise to the other party," the complaint states.