Strikers Ownership Deny Allegations In Edwards Suit, Seeking Sale to PSG Academy Florida

Fort Lauderdale Strikers

by JAKE NUTTING

Mired in a legal battle with the owner of one of their former on-field rivals, the Brazilian ownership group of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is still moving ahead with its effort to sell the team.

The Telegraph’s Bob Williams reported on Thursday that PSG Academy Florida — which is backed by the same Qatari investors who own and operate Ligue 1’s Paris St-Germain — remains on track to take over the historic NASL side if the league announces it will live on in 2017. PSG Academy Florida has operated FC Miami City in the PDL for the last two years.

Williams also revealed that all staff members have been officially terminated by ownership and are expected to be paid until the end of the year.

Players, on the other hand, are being forced to settle for less than what is owed to them after dealing with late payments or bounced checks from ownership throughout most of the year. Forward Giuseppe Gentile, who started the year in Fort Lauderdale before being traded to Ottawa in July, backed up William’s tweet that players would be receiving at least half of their owed wages, adding that the players were left with no recourse after finding little support in negotiations.

Still unknown is how is the pending lawsuit filed by Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards against Fort Lauderdale’s holding company, Miami FC LLC, over unpaid loans might complicate any potential sale of the team. Through his company, Marketing Solutions Publications, Edwards loaned the cash-strapped Strikers owners over $700,000 spread across multiple loans during the 2016 season. The Strikers were released from having to repay the initial $450,000 loan in an amendment to the original deal signed in July, but Edwards is now suing for $300,000 in unpaid principal, plus interest, from three other loans.

EoS has learned that Fort Lauderdale has filed an affirmative defense in the case, denying all allegations in Edwards’ complaint and requesting the court dismiss the case. Citing the unclean hands doctrine, Fort Lauderdale’s defense asserts that Edwards should be barred from pursuing his claims against them.

The defense also claims that enforcing the loan agreement under the current circumstances would be inequitable and that the contract itself is not enforceable under Florida law as it is unreasonable. One of the exhibits filed by Edwards’ legal team was a promissory note signed by Managing Director Luis Cuccattii, which also lists team owner Paulo Cesso as the Individual Guarantor, that details the collateral the Strikers put up to secure the loans. Along with tangible assets, the agreement includes the team’s patents, copyrights, trademarks, rights to use of the name “FT Lauderdale Strikers” and any and all variations thereof.