Gordon Bradley, former coach of the Diplomats, announced plans yesterday to raise between $3 million and $5 million to establish a North American Soccer League team in Washington for the 1982 outdoor season.
Bradley's group, Washington Soccer Inc., calls itself a nonprofit organization and is attempting to solicit enough private and corporate donations to convince the league it can run a team here.
The Washington Diplomats team that was owned by Madison Square Garden folded in December 1980 after losing $6 million in two years. The last Diplomat franchise, owned by Jimmy and Duncan Hill, folded this week after losing more than $1 million and leaving local debts estimated at $700,000. The Hills also allegedly owe about $1 million to creditors in the Detroit area, where their franchise operated as the Express from 1977 until 1980.
NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam has indicated that the league is in an antiexpansion mood but would listen to Bradley's proposal at its next meeting (Oct. 19-22 in Seattle). Bradley said two or three of the remaining 16 teams still are wavering and could be for sale before the 1982 season starts.
Bradley delivered an emotional presentation at the National Press Club yesterday, imploring people to donate whatever money possible to his group's effort to bring professional soccer back to Washington.
"We're asking donations from everybody; I mean everybody," Bradley said, almost shouting to an audience of about 50 persons. "We will do it because I know the people in Washington care about professional soccer. We don't want people from New York or Detroit or England to run our soccer team. We can make it happen. Let's hang our hats and make it happen."
Washington Soccer Inc. says it has been pledged more than $15,000 in the past few days and has $3,850 in hand. Georges Edeline, soccer coach at George Washington University, pledged $1,000 during the press conference. Bradley's group has applied for tax-exempt status and says it plans to put any profit into the local youth soccer programs.
The group's first step will be a door-knocking campaign. Beginning next week, it hopes to have nearly 70,000 soccer-playing youngsters in the area soliciting donations. Each person is responsible for selling 10 $10 supporting memberships. Charter memberships will be $100 and will entitle subscribers to participate in the club's decision-making processes.
"This is going to be run like any other corporation," said Stan Bretner, a local businessman who is the group's director. WSI has already set up a trust fund at National Savings and Trust and is set to receive donations at 1629 K St. NW in Washington.
Names mentioned for the prospective team: Eagles, United.