SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s an ugly dispute that the mayor of Sacramento is now publicly getting involved with. The internal business dealings behind Sacramento’s Major League Soccer bid have fallen apart.
Now fans of the hometown team are left in the middle wondering what’s next?
“That’s my game-day scarf,” said Don Gibson pointing to his Sacramento Republic FC swag.
He’s better known as Rave Bear at the games. Gibson has been a season ticket holder for Republic FC since the team began four years ago.
“It’s something that we feel is really unique and that we can be proud about,” said Gibson.
The strong fan support for the Republic was a selling point to Major League Soccer during the MLS application process. Thousands greeted MLS Commissioner Don Garber last April during his visit.
“There is a really strong fan base in Sacramento, but the strong fan base is for Sacramento Republic,” said Brian Trainer the President of the Tower Bridge Battalion, a 1,000 member fan group.
On Tuesday, the Republic’s colors, crest, name, and logo we’re kept off the bid for an expansion franchise.
“We didn’t really know what to make of it,” said Trainer.
Warren Smith, the president and controlling owner of the Republic, says he was blindsided by the move saying in a statement.
“if the bid submitted yesterday by Mr. Nagle did not include Sacramento Republic FC, it was in violation of our agreements and without our authorization; and we will take this up with the appropriate parties immediately.”
Kevin Nagle, the lead investor for the MLS effort and Owner of Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings LLC downplayed the controversy, responding in a statement reading:
“We have the utmost respect for ‘Sacramento Republic FC’ and firmly believe that we further strengthen our case by presenting a united front with them. We have always been and are committed to finalizing a compelling partnership…”
What was thought as a seamless effort to bring major league soccer to Sacramento included a power struggle and ownership dispute behind closed doors.
“Let’s all take a breath and let’s let cooler heads prevail here,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, “ people are passionate.”
Steinberg said the dispute was over money and that he was under the impression a resolution had been reached. Steinberg will host the two parties at an undisclosed location and time on Thursday.
“We’ll do the old lock the door turn up the heat and see if we can resolve this,” said Steinberg.