A five-man group headed by Gordon Bradley, former Washington Diplomat coach, will announce plans today to try to raise $5 million for a North American Soccer League expansion team for the 1982 season.
Contacted yesterday, Bradley said he would disclose details of the plan at a press conference today. "We've found that you can't ask people to invest huge amounts of money in soccer at this time," Bradley said. "This will be a different approach."
The approach, according to those familiar with the plan, will be to solicit funds from the public, basically in small and medium-sized amounts. Bradley's group will try to get the 68,000 youngsters playing soccer in this area to work on fundraising during the next two months.
The goal of the group is to raise $5 million, although most people feel that the NASL could be swayed into granting an expansion franchise if a group came forward with $2 million. The $5 million would provide a cushion.
Bradley met in Toronto last weekend with NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam and with members of the NASL executive board to tell them of his plan and to get a feel for how an expansion proposal would be received.
"The mood right now is very much against expansion," Woosnam said. "But in the case of Washington, where the market has proven itself as a good one for soccer, where, for a number of reasons, two franchises have been lost in the last two years, it might be different.
"If a group came to the league meeting in Seattle (Oct. 19-22) with a solid proposal from Washington I think people would listen to it."
Bradley's group, which has held a number of organizational meetings in recent weeks in the wake of the announcement that this year's Diplomats, nee Detroit Express, were folding, does not expect to have a proposal ready by the October meetings.
"But if we can show them progress and if we believe we can raise the money I still think we can get them to listen to us in November or December," Bradley said. "That still leaves very little time for us, though."
This year's Diplomats folded with about $1.7 million in unpaid bills and that is a debt with which any group working in Washington would have to deal.