The simmering Kansas City Comets ownership crisis jumped up a level yesterday when the MASL declared all players under contract with the Comets to be free agents.
Several weeks ago the league set a deadline of July 18 to keep the Comets player contracts in force to ensure that a new owner would walk into a situation where the team was intact, and the disruption was minimal.
So while it’s not a surprise that they hit the deadline without a sale, it’s maybe surprising that that MASL issued a press release.
The league’s communications have been inconsistent and often have to be vetted through several layers of bureaucracy. While the league announced investigations into allegations against the former Comets owners and Armando Tello’s injury claim in Florida, no updates or conclusion ever came out of the league. When the Chicago Mustangs players were made free agents after the team missed a league deadline, there was no league announcement.
So yesterday’s announcement has the appearance of a last ditch plea for new owners to ride in on a white horse and save one of he league’s legacy teams.
The league, up to this point has operated as if the Comets will be back. One league official yesterday that he was “still confident there will be new owners”.
The earliest the MASL can put out its season schedule is typically September 1, since several teams share arenas with other sports who have first priority for dates, which gives the league a maximum of six weeks to solve the Comets situation.
The importance of the Comets franchise cannot be overstated. The Kansas City Comets have been a major name in indoor soccer since 1981. This version of the Comets, which began as the Missouri Comets in 2010, has played seven seasons in Independence, averaging over 4,000 fans per game, and regularly finishing near the top of the standings. The Comets were fourth in the league in attendance this season at 3,720 per game.
From the previous ownership group Brad Likens was an influential owner who was one of the main figures in the merger between the MISL and PASL in 2014.
Whatever direction this is going in, no one has advised the players we contacted to seek other opportunities, and no one has asked them to stay a few more weeks and wait. Both found out about their new free agent status when they read the league press release.