Rayo OKC Minority Owner Removes Turf In Dispute with Spanish Investors

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING

When Rayo OKC was announced late last year, everyone expected a turf war between them and the still relatively young USL team OKC Energy to brew.

However, no one ever imagined that a literal turf war would break out among the NASL club’s investors instead.

According to a report from James Poling of The Oklahoman, minority owner Sean Jones removed nearly half of the team’s artificial turf pallets without informing any team officials last week.  The expansion club has been using the removable artificial turf system Nexxfield at Yukon High School’s Miller Stadium to cover football lines and widen the field by covering up track.

“The removal of the turf was removed under [Jones’] authority in the middle of the night [Wednesday],” the club said a statement to The Oklahoman. “We still don’t know Mr. Jones’ intention for the turf or its whereabouts. There is no resolution in preparation for our home match on September 11.”

Jones, though, claims to have informed the team of his reasoning and intentions shortly after he took the pallets. In his own statement to The Oklahoman, Jones affirmed that he purchased the Nexxfield turf on his own after Rayo OKC’s primary investor Raul Martin Prensa from Rayo Vallecano said he was not in favor of the idea and would not chip in for the cost. Former Rayo OKC executive Brad Lund relayed in an interview earlier in the year that the Nexxfield turf cost around $500,000.

Last week, Jones received word that the Nexxfield turf was going to be sold as a part of Rayo Vallecano’s recent cost-cutting initiatives that led to the exodus of head coach Alen Marcina and most of the front office. With this news, Jones elected to take quick action to protect his investment.

“Early last week I was told by several vendors involved with Miller Stadium preparation that (general director) Djorn Buchholz had informed them that the field was no longer being used and was being sold,” said Jones. “At that time, I made the determination that it was in my best interests to secure the field and move it to a safe location.”

Believing the turf might have been stolen, Rayo OKC filed a police report but dropped the complaint once Jones informed them of his actions. Recently installed Managing Director Alberto Gallegos told Jones that they had no plans to sell the turf. Since that meeting, though, Jones has had no luck getting anyone from the team to put together a signed agreement on the plans for the turf, and he has no intention of returning the missing pallets until he does.

“At the time I made it clear that I was happy to allow Rayo OKC to continue to use the turf, but I wanted clarification of their plans for use or the remainder of the season as well as a signed agreement outlining the terms and conditions of use,” said Jones.

“Since last Wednesday, I have exchanged numerous emails which I will be happy to provide asking for clarification and a signed agreement with Mr. Gallegos, Luis Yanez who is the general manager of Rayo Vallecano and Raul Martin Prensa. I have yet to receive clarification as to whether or not they plan to use the turf or any offer of signing an agreement.”

The club will need to settle the matter with Jones or find another solution for playing at Miller Stadium on their own by September 11, when they host Jacksonville Armada FC.