Team America owner Robert Lifton yesterday extended the future of his team at least until Dec. 1 in order to give Howard Samuels, president of the North American Soccer League, time to meet three demands.
Lifton has asked Samuels to ensure that the United States Soccer Federation fulfills its contract with Team America in the form of a $450,000 marketing contract and a series of international games.
Lifton also wants the NASL to find several more corporate sponsors for Team America and to guarantee Coach Alkis Panagoulias the right to pick any American players from other franchises next season.
Samuels, who is a member of the board of directors of the USSF, was optimistic the demands will be met.
"I am 90 percent convinced we can solve all of the problems," said Samuels. "Bob (Lifton) is totally committed to this project and I am committed to helping him. I feel, as a director, that I can get the USSF's cooperation, and I'll fine the hell out of any of my owners who don't cooperate."
"Part of going forward is trying to clean up the problems this year left behind," said Lifton, who said he has lost more than $1 million and had threatened to cease operating the team by Sept. 5. "We're doing the things now we should have done before the season began. But if these demands are met, Team America will return to Washington and play in the NASL next season."
While Samuels attempts to meet Lifton's demands, Team America's players will be returned to their original clubs Oct. 1 to compete in the indoor season. Although their teams have agreed to make them available for any international games, most of Team America's players are upset over having to go back to their clubs.
"It's unfortunate, but there's nothing we can do. We have no power, no choice," said Jeff Durgan, Team America's captain. "I don't know if any of us even have a place on our old teams. Sure, I have a contract with the Cosmos, but they could ask me to come back and just clean the stadium."
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