Morton H. Levine, who is heading a group of investors trying to obtain the management contract for a Washington-based Arena Football team, said yesterday his group remains very interested in making an agreement, but would not do so by the Friday midnight deadline set by league president Jim Foster.

"They're trying to pressure us and that is something we just won't allow," Levine, a Bethesda-based real estate developer, said during a telephone interview from Australia, where he is on business.

"I'm extremely cautious in the way I do deals. I'm not going to take my money or anyone else's and invest it promiscuously until all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted."

"The structure for our team is basically put together. I've been talking to the people at Capital Centre and we should be able to get together. When the structure for the league is all on paper, it's been digested by my people and myself and it's acceptable, that's when we'll commit."

He criticized Foster for setting today's deadline, saying "I don't know why Foster would say that. That's foolish on his part. It hurts himself when he talks like that and it's destroying the credibility of the league."

Foster, who also is having problems with a group in Denver, yesterday refused to comment.

Groups representing Pittsburgh; Chicago; Providence, R.I.; New York; Los Angeles, and Detroit concluded management agreements with the league during league meetings last Thursday and Friday in Chicago.

On Wednesday, Foster said he would like to have teams in Washington and Denver when the league begins its first regular season this spring, but that "we may have to go with a six-team league."

"In defense of Morty," Foster said, "we had some changes made in our legal structure that caught him by surprise and put him in a position where he wasn't able to fully explain the deal to the other members of his group. Finally, he had to go to Australia. It was just bad timing.

"I know Morty would still like to be in the league, but what he would like for us to do is leave the door open and we really have to start going."

Levine said it is neither prudent nor necessary to operate under Foster's apparent timetable.

"If we have to miss one game, it will be worth having a solid, sound league," Levine said. "Also, according to my people, we can pull the league together very quickly. Things could still happen."