The North American Soccer League's Philadelphia Fury have reached an agreement with the major Indoor Soccer League's Philadelphia Fever to pool players and front-office personnel. It is a major coup for the MISL, which operated last winter with six teams in its inaugural season and is planning to expand to 10 teams this winter.
The NASL, meanwhile, is planning its own indoor league and 14 of the 24 teams have signed to play from December through February.
Under the agreement, the Fury will not play indoors and will loan the Fever several players. In return, the Fever, which averaged 8,000 fans a game last winter - double what the Fury is currently drawing - will lend front-office personnel to the Fury to try and help boost attendance at Veterans Stadium.
The significance of the agreement was perhaps underscored by the accompanying press releases - the MISL sent out four pages; the Fury never mentioned it.
The NASL and the MISL will be competing head to head this winter and the MISL scored another victory last week when it signed a contract with the Madison Square Garden cable network for nationwide cablecasts of its games, regular season and playoffs.
The Washington Diplomats and the Cosmos are two of the teams that are not in the NASL indoor league at the moment. Diplomat General Manager John Carbray is encouraging Madison Square Garden management to join the league, but team sources say the Dips' chances of playing indoors are no better than 50-50 because the Garden is reluctant to invest any money in the indoor sport.
If the Dips do decide to play indoors, they would try to rent Capital Centre. A series of exhibition games two years ago in the D.C. Armory were a disaster and the club will not return there.
Carbray flew to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, last week with Fort Lauderdale Strikers General Manager Beau Rogers to meet with officials there about the possibility of setting up a winter soccer league similar to baseball's arrangement.
Under a proposal, four NASL teams - Washington, Fort Lauderdale, Minnesota and Chicago - would send players from their teams to Puerto Rico, Haiti, Santo Domingo and Santiago, also in the Dominican Republic, from October through December.
They would be joined by players from those countries to form teams that would play a three-month season. The purpose, like with winter baseball, would be to give younger players experience and older players coming back from injuries a chance to play their way into shape.
Carbray said the clubs are hopeful that the league can begin play this fall, with expansion possible the following year if the league is a success.
Eddie Firmani, fired as Cosmos coach June 1 is expected to be named coach of the American Soccer League's New Jersey Americans.
Firmani, 45, said last week that he expected to be back in coaching "very soon," and apparently his expectations will be realized.
Americans Coach Arthur Stewart was fired Thursday.
Discouraging note for the NASL. Two of the league's most consistent teams on the field and at the gate last year are showing losses in attendance this season. Going into weekend play the Minnesota Kicks, who had average 27,000 fans per game the previous two years, were down to 19,000 a game for seven dates, some of which have been affected by weather. And the Seattle Sounders, who had averaged close to 24,000 a game in the Kingdome, were drawing only 16,000 per contest halfway through the season.