UPDATE: News outlets are reporting that the RailHawks organization were part of an ownership group that includes Traffic Sports, the Brazilian company that owns Miami FC, that tried and failed to purchase the USL. We hope to have more soon.
After last night's game between the RailHawks and FC Miami, we spoke to Carolina RailHawks president Brian Wellman about the progress of Nike's long-rumored sale of the entire United Soccer League pyramid. Wellman acknowledged that the league, 98 percent of which is owned by Umbro, was for sale.
"There's a lot of silence right now from the league, which means something's going on, we just aren't sure exactly what's going on. And the bid is for the entire USL."
Today, Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings announced its purchase of the entire USL pyramid, including USL-1, USL-2, Premier Development League and W-League. Terms were not disclosed, but Nike and its subsidiary Umbro will continue to have a long-term sponsor relationship with the USL.
NuRock is led by Chairman Rob Hoskins and CEO Alec Papadakis. The former is a real estate developer, while the latter is a franchise attorney and veteran player for the Atlanta Chiefs and the Boston Minutemen, both of the old North American Soccer League. NuRock Soccer Holdings also holds USL-1 franchise rights in Atlanta, Ga. and Birmingham, Ala.
The deal promises to address a persistent source of concern among the club owners of the USL, that the league is in urgent need of better, more aggressive marketing and development.
From the press release:
"We are delighted to close this transaction with NIKE and begin a partnership with Nike's leading football brands which will sponsor and support USL, and all of its leagues, for many years to come. Together with USL Management, we are excited about the opportunity to grow the size and visibility of USL, and to help develop and train the future generations of soccer athletes in the United States", said Alec Papadakis, CEO of NuRock Soccer Holdings.
Last night, Wellman agreed that better marketing is a priority.
"We are in favor for a new ownership group to move the league forward, whether it's St. Louis or another group," Wellman said. "We're in favor of dealership to lead the league in a new direction, with corporate sponsorship and TV contracts and raising the level of the league to a much higher standard."
Here's the entire release.