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Aviators still have some gas in the tank...


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Fishman, what about the possibility of contacting last-year bidders who were planning of establishing an A-League club in Edmonton???? These are bidders such as the Rick Titus group who eventually lost-out to the twits who were managing the club this year, and finally bailed-out on the club. In fact, one member on the Aviator Fan Forum did post an information that the USL may get in contact with these bidders.

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Interest expressed in ownership of ladies side


The "For Sale" sign has only been on the Edmonton Aviators women's team for a day but some interest in the club has already perked up. A local businessman who requested anonymity yesterday said he would mull over putting an offer on the table for the W-League franchise by the end of the week. The group of 19 investors that made up Edmonton Professional Soccer Ltd. retained the ownership rights of the women's club on Monday despite surrendering the men's team back to the United Soccer Leagues.

"I might be interested. I'm not going to say yes yet but I'm not saying no either," said the prominent figure when contacted by the Sun.

Dave Askinas, chief operating officer of the USL, believes the women Aviators team could be purchased for between $25,000 and $30,000 US with an operating budget of $75,000 to $100,000 US, which includes team travel, staff and venue rental. Players on W-League teams are not paid so that ones currently attending or those bound for U.S. colleges retain their NCAA eligibility. Import members of the Aviators were put up in houses and received $550 per month for food during the 2004 season.

"Edmonton has been a huge supporter of women's soccer looking back at the FIFA under-19s and I think those people who supported that tournament, we can draw from and get them excited about us," said Aviators captain Carey Gustafson.

"We could easily shoot for 4,000 a game next year if we get out more into the community and make people aware of who we are. Women's soccer is developing in this city and there's future national team players on our team. That's something to get excited about - to be in a city that's producing the next big names."

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Still kickin' ... maybe


The Edmonton Aviators, rather appropriately, are in a holding pattern, but there is an apparent liftoff on the horizon. After a day of wheeling and dealing and exorbitant cellphone charges, the Aviators have assembled enough of a team to carry on for the remainder of the A-League season.

There are a couple of obstacles in the way, but the United Soccer Leagues - the umbrella organization that operates the A-League - appears set to pay the way for the Aviators to complete the club's inaugural season.

That continuation would begin tomorrow night when the Aviators host the Milwaukee Wave - a contest that will likely take place at Foote Field.


"I sure hope so. We're just waiting for a final verdict," said Aviators head coach Ross Ongaro, who played the entire 1983 championship season with the Edmonton Eagles without being paid a cent.

"It was never a question of loyalty from the players. Once they committed to the program, they were committed. If we get the chance to finish this year that's the only way that we can possibly have a team here next year."

Sticking with the Aviators will cost the remaining players dearly - many of whom quickly passed up the USL's first offer, which came Monday night and was then discussed at a players' meeting yesterday morning.

An initial proposal from the league offered eight contracts at $1,000 per month and another five at $500 per month.

A second offer was made yesterday afternoon and the players met again to hash things out.

"The players are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the team here for the rest of the season," said Aviators captain Kurt Bosch following the late-afternoon team vote.

After the team's breakfast meeting, Bosch declared he would not play another game with a "makeshift" squad that would make an embarrassing situation even worse.

"There's a lot of guys who are taking a huge pay cut and they're prepared to do that, which shows a committment right there," said Bosch. "Everyone's sticking together, we're all on the same page."

The players agreed to the revamped terms but the USL and A-League team owners wanted a second look at the Aviators' travel expenses.

USL chief operating officer Dave Askinas was informed that the Aviators' former ownership group had not purchased advance plane tickets for Saturday's road game in Minnesota, so suddenly a $15,000 trip had become a $50,000 journey based on last-minute ticket purchases.

"That was a gem of a surprise,"scoffed Askinas.

Under the ownership group that bailed out Monday night, players' salaries ranged from $500 to $5,000 per month.

With the league taking over, the top-dollar contracts are expected to be cut by least 50 per cent, but even with the substantial drop in pay, high-end players including Chilean import Jaime Lopresti, along with veterans Sipho Sibiya and Nik Vignjevic chose to stay.

"As players, when you have nothing under your control in terms of financial things, it really becomes tough because all of sudden you're hung out to dry," said defender Chris Devlin.

"When the league comes back to you and gives you an offer to play out the season and at least give something back to the fans that bought season tickets and want to come to the games, it's our responsibility as players to step out there and try to do the best we can for our fans."

All the players were declared free agents once the ownership turned control of the team over to the league and three players did leave the Aviators yesterday.


Striker Chris Lemire, who was on loan from the Montreal Impact, went back to his former club, former Driller Chris Handsor returned to his home in Toronto and may join the Toronto Lynx, and standout goalkeeper Jose Luis Campi opted not to stay in town.

Ongaro added that local products Vik Kaushal and Cesar Molina may be released so that their eligibility to play for a Canadian college or university team would be protected.

If the Aviators do play tomorrow night, it certainly won't be the best lineup that Ongaro has fielded during the year, but it might just be the most cohesive unit he's had.

Adversity had better bring out their best.

"We can't be thinking that any of these teams will take mercy or have pity on us," said Ongaro. "They'll be coming for three points and absolutely trying to steamroller and kill us.

"We're going to have to give 100 per cent effort every second and not use our situation as a crutch. They're going to have to work harder than they ever dreamt of.

"We're not going to be as strong, but we'll work better as a unit - and sometimes you become stronger by subtraction."

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quote:Originally posted by Chet

"We could easily shoot for 4,000 a game next year if we get out more into the community and make people aware of who we are. Women's soccer is developing in this city and there's future national team players on our team.

Well, it SEEMS like they've learnt their lesson and have done their homework on Women's soccer in Canada... [xx(]

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Actually, the women's team is more viable than the men's. Their operating expenses are only a quarter that of the men's team and they can draw well over half as many fans. Average attendance for the women this year was 2111. That number was bolstered by the fact that all but one of their games were double-headers. But there was only one weekend game and publicity was weak. 4,000 may be dreaming, but I think 3,000 is achievable, especially if the team makes the playoffs next year.

Bear in mind that that 4,000 number was coming from one of the players, not from anyone who would actually be running things.

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The womens team may very well be more viable than the mens team. However how do we know how many people actually bought tickets just for the womens side? I'm still asking, maybe someone from Edmonton will let me know, did they sell seperate tickets for the men and women or was it all 2 for 1, with both games printed on one ticket? Seems to me that the club just pulled the attendance figures out of a hat for the men and women.

What I'm trying to say is that if Edmonton wants to have an A-League team (which is all I'm interested in) then they should not start right away trying to run two teams at once. Thats trying to run before one can walk. Get the mens side up and running and stable, then if it's really neccessary add a womens side. In the meantime if a womens team is really what people want then a seperate owner can get a team up and running. If they can really draw over half as many fans then there's no need to hang onto the mens teams coat tails. Something tells me though that the womens side would not have drawn so many fans if they weren't playing all games as doubleheaders. Which leads to another thing:

Those doubleheaders which caused the mens team to kickoff certain games at 6pm duing the week certainly screwed a lot of things up. Like i said before, over and over, the club had to decide which was the main attraction, they didn't and look what happened.

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Double-header tickets were sold as one ticket for both games. And you're right, no one seems to know how they came up with the separate attendance figures.

The double-headers didn't only benefit the women. All of the pre-game publicity for June 15 double-header, for example, was focused on the women's game, specifically the return to Edmonton of Kara Lang and Erin McLeod. Not coincidentally, that game generated the largest turnout of the year for both teams.

There's a pretty good chance that the two teams will be run separately next year, if they both survive. So far, we've heard about one prospective owner who has expressed an interest in the women's team. No one has publicly expressed an interest in the men's team yet.

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quote:So far, we've heard about one prospective owner who has expressed an interest in the women's team. No one has publicly expressed an interest in the men's team yet.

Sure, there's less risk involved with the women. Hopefully it's not because there's still the mistaken belief that womens soccer is hugely popular in Edmonton.

It's the smart thing to do, have the mens and womens sides owned seperately.

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