Soccer League Wants $1M After OKC Left It Hanging

     (CN) – Accusing its would-be Oklahoma franchise of improper withdrawal, the North American Soccer League wants a judge to have the team owner fork over $1 million.
     Soon to have 13 members across the United States and Canada, the league says its 2013 negotiations with OKC Pro Soccer culminated with team owner Tim McLauglin buying an interest in the league that July.
     Over the next eight months, the league and OKC negotiated the lease of Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City with Oklahoma City Public Schools, according to a June complaint 5 in Manhattan Supreme Court.
     The league says it was not an actual party to the lease executed with McLaughlin, however, since he worked on the agreement in his capacity as a member of the league.
     Amid the lease of this space, however, OKC Pro Soccer sent the league a payment of $2.1 million on Feb. 21, 2014, pursuant to a notice of withdrawal, according to the complaint.
     The league says OKC’s “attempted payment” consisted of $1.6 million in entry fees, buyout fees and league dues, plus $500,000 “as an attempted withdrawal fee.”
     Though the franchise has characterized its withdrawal as “proper,” the league says OKC has contravened the various requirements of that status.
     For example, the franchise “did not continue its operational obligations through Dec. 31, 2014 as required,” and it did not field a team through the start of the 2015 season, according to the complaint.
     The league says OKC also should have given it the Taft Stadium lease as part of its withdrawal, but McLaughlin instead joined the management team at a rival soccer team, OKC Energy FC, as an equal partner on March 25.
     “Simultaneously, OKC Energy FC announced that McLaughlin had made a donation to rebuild Taft Stadium where that franchise intends to eventually play its home soccer games,” the complaint states.
     The league says OKC’s failure to transfer the Taft Stadium Lease constitutes a breach of their agreement, which required the franchise to “retain 100 percent of the ownership of the team assets.”
     During lease negotiations, McLaughlin “gave no indication and reserved no right to keep the benefits of the lease to himself, should he withdraw himself and OKC Pro Soccer from NASL,” the complaint states.
     The league maintains that the OKC committed a “default withdrawal,” which allows a member to withdraw immediately only if it gives up all trademark and copyrights to the team name and logo for the full season, and pays the league a $2.5 million fee, any money owed for the rest of that calendar year, and any withdrawal costs paid by the league.
     Claiming that OKC owes it $2 million to satisfy the full default fee, the league says McLaughlin is responsible for up to $1 million of that amount.
     It is represented by William Primps with Dorsey & Whitney.
     McLaughlin has not returned a request for comment.

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