Investors, Republic owners square off after Sacramento MLS bid submitted without team name – Sacramento Bee

Sacramento’s bid for a Major League Soccer team was plunged into chaos Wednesday after representatives of Sacramento Republic FC charged that managing partner and lead investor Kevin Nagle formally submitted his bid without authorization of the minor league club.

Nagle submitted the bid to MLS under the name of Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, a corporation he controls, instead of Republic FC. In an interview late Tuesday, Nagle told The Sacramento Bee that Sac Soccer doesn’t control the rights to the Republic FC brand and is negotiating with team founder Warren Smith to obtain the brand if the bid for MLS status is successful.

The bid for MLS status had to submitted by Tuesday in order to meet a deadline set by the league.

“My preference would be to keep the Republic name,” Nagle said.

Republic FC, however, issued a blistering statement Wednesday accusing Nagle of violating his agreements with the team.

“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,” said the statement, released by Republic FC spokeswoman Erika Bjork.

Smith couldn’t be reached for comment, and a representative for Nagle didn’t have an immediate response to the team’s statement.

The confusion about the name began spilling out late Tuesday on social media, where Republic FC fans accused Nagle of abandoning the team’s brand.

“Why would Major League Soccer exclude (the) team that put Sacramento on the map?” wrote Jason R. Riley on Twitter in one typical comment.

The Tower Bridge Battalion, the vociferous Republic FC fan group, said on its Twitter feed: “TBB has, is and always will be (Sacramento Republic FC) until we die. All of the money (Republic investor) Kevin Nagle has to offer won’t change that.”

Nagle, who made his fortune in the pharmacy benefits business, said Sac Soccer has always been the corporate entity for pushing the MLS bid.

Smith’s plan was to get a minor league soccer team up and running, which he did in 2014, and that investors would follow and take the Republic to its MLS goal. The runaway success of the Republic, which won the United Soccer League championship in its inaugural season in 2014, attracted Nagle as an investor.

But Smith and Nagle have not yet consummated a deal. So when the time came for Nagle to join 11 other cities submitting expansion bids to MLS on Tuesday, Nagle said he had to move forward without the Republic name because he doesn’t own it – for now.

MLS currently has 22 franchises and will christen a 23rd in Los Angeles in 2018. The league could add another two teams this year, and Sacramento is competing against 11 other cities.

Because it could be six months or longer before MLS decides whether it will expand again, Nagle said that leaves time for him to continue negotiating with Smith.

Smith was not presented at Tuesday’s downtown press conference announcing Sacramento’s MLS bid and its newest investor – Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO and former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.


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