Sacra­mento’s Ma­jor League Soc­cer bid dealt an­other huge blow

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - — Ryan Lillis, The Sacra­mento Bee

Sacra­mento’s bid to land a Ma­jor League Soc­cer ex­pan­sion fran­chise was handed a se­ri­ous set­back Fri­day, when MLS an­nounced it was mak­ing progress with an own­er­ship group that would keep the Colum­bus Crew in Ohio while also re­main­ing com­mit­ted to launch­ing a fran­chise in Austin, Texas.

That could mean that one of two ex­pan­sion spots still up for grabs in MLS would go to one of those cities, leav­ing Sacra­mento to com­pete with De­troit, St. Louis, Phoenix and other cities for the fi­nal avail­able fran­chise.

Repub­lic FC has been search­ing for a lead in­vestor for nearly a year who could lead its ex­pan­sion ef­fort af­ter be­ing told by MLS of­fi­cials that its own­er­ship group needed more fi­nan­cial weight.

“We are cur­rently in the last phase in the year-long process of se­cur­ing a top flight own­er­ship group to de­liver the MLS club our fans and com­mu­nity de­serve,” Repub­lic FC said in a writ­ten state­ment. “(Fri­day’s) an­nounce­ment does not im­pact our fi­nal stage ne­go­ti­a­tions in any way what­so­ever. Repub­lic FC, to­gether with our prospec­tive own­er­ship part­ners, are in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the league about next steps. Along­side them, Mayor Dar­rell Stein­berg, the City Coun­cil, and the en­tire com­mu­nity, we re­main as com­mit­ted and con­fi­dent as ever in achiev­ing our goal of bring­ing MLS to Sacra­mento.”

Pre­court Sports Ven­tures has been try­ing to move the Colum­bus Crew to Austin for months, cit­ing lag­ging at­ten­dance in Ohio. The league said it re­mains on track to launch a team in Austin no later than 2021.

“Ma­jor League Soc­cer is ex­cited to move for­ward in Austin with Pre­court Sports Ven­tures and their vi­sion for Austin FC,” the league said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Re­gard­less of any sce­nario in Colum­bus, there is a clear path for­ward for PSV to op­er­ate Austin FC as a Ma­jor League Soc­cer club.”

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