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New era under way for USL-1
Meetings hosted by Nike Inc. in Beaverton produce excitement for future

USL News Release

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TAMPA, FL – A new era kicked off for the United Soccer Leagues First Division Tuesday in Beaverton, Oregon at the headquarters of Nike and Umbro (Nike Inc.), a worldwide leader in sports apparel and leading strategic partner of USL. Owners of USL-1 clubs, prestigious partners Beswicks Sports and Premier Partnerships and USL management gathered to chart a new direction for the flagship professional league that included expansion, international affiliations and corporate opportunities.

Nike headquarters played host to USL-1 Meeting Tuesday

“There is a change in the air,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We had a fantastic series of positive and extremely productive meetings Tuesday with our dedicated USL-1 owners as well as a number of new owners at the magnificent headquarters of Nike Inc. We are thrilled to be creating a new road map for a sophisticated future at new heights moving forward to 2010 and beyond with the current and future great, quality owners that we met with again as well as the Charleston Battery, who were unable to attend.”

Owners representing Austin, Cleveland, New York, Puerto Rico, Portland, Rochester and Tampa Bay were in attendance as well as individuals representing USL-1 Canadian expansion teams in Edmonton and Ottawa and American teams in Baltimore and Detroit were on hand.

“The meeting went very well and set the tone moving forward,” said Rochester Rhinos owner Rob Clark. “We are united as an organization moving forward and not as individuals.”

Austin Aztex owner Phil Rawlins added, “The meetings were extremely positive and very worthwhile. There was a lot of good news and announcements. It was a positive experience and we are ready to go for 2010.”

“I was delighted to see so many potential new franchises at the meeting, with several of them prepared to play as early as 2010 and 2011,” continued Rawlins. “There will be a transition moving forward, but the future is very bright from an expansion standpoint.”

Clark also felt the expansion candidates showed great promise. “I thought they would be a great addition to the league,” he said. “They have solid, fundamental ownership behind them and their diversity will create opportunities in new regions, which will help the league as a whole moving forward.”

The USL-1 Meeting kicked off the 2010 campaign as the clubs and league laid out the direction of the league.

“While the 2009 campaign was another good year, we are laying the groundwork for new heights that will be reached in 2010,” said Papadakis. “Having partners such as Randy Bernstein and Alan Rothenberg of Premier Partnerships is going to bring a new level of sophistication to USL in enhancing corporate revenues for USL and its teams. We are looking forward to their wise counsel and advice in corporate marketing and revenues for soccer both in the United States and internationally.”

Premier Partnerships is a nationally recognized sports and entertainment sales and marketing firm that is the most prestigious in the soccer industry. They are focused on and have been extremely successful in revenue generation for sports leagues, major facilities, events and properties. Recognized by industry insiders as experienced, focused, passionate, and results driven, Premier Partnerships is primarily called upon by its clients to advise, develop and execute extremely profitable sales and marketing solutions.

The firm is led by President and CEO Randy Bernstein, who attended the Beaverton USL-1 Meeting, and Chairman Alan I. Rothenberg, who currently sits on boards for both CONCACAF and FIFA. Bernstein was a founding executive of Major League Soccer and was senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing for the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee. He also oversaw Yahoo’s FIFA World Cup Partnership while serving as Yahoo! Inc. Vice President prior to starting Premier Partnerships. Rothenberg spearheaded soccer’s rise in the United States during the 1990’s as Chairman and CEO of the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee, President of the US Soccer Federation and Founder of Major League Soccer.

“Having them there was a unique opportunity for everyone, giving our league a way to differentiate ourselves and grow our league going forward,” said Clark in reference to Premier Partnerships and Beswicks being in attendance and providing presentations.

Representing Beswicks Sports, an English sports management and law firm, was Tim Bailey.

“I am impressed by the strength of purpose shown by Alec and the determination he has for the future success of USL under the ownership of Nu Rock,” said Bailey, a Partner at Beswicks. “There is now a clear unity between the franchise holders, all of whom have spoken very positively in terms of leadership of the League under the direction of Nu Rock. I left the meeting with an extremely positive view for the future and am looking forward to working with Alec, his management team and the club owners in continuing with our development of international affiliations and partnerships with clubs in Europe and other parts of the world.”

Beswicks is an official partner of United Soccer Leagues following an agreement forged in August of 2008 that puts the English firm at the heart of USL’s efforts to develop affiliations and partnerships between European clubs and USL franchises in North America.

The campus at Nike headquartersTeam owners and prospective franchises left the meeting highly interested in working with Beswicks on enhancing their clubs with international relationships.

“There was a lot of interest in international affiliations and what Beswicks could do in building relationships,” said Rawlins, who works with Beswicks as owner of the Aztex and director at Stoke City of the English Premiership. “They were intrigued at how they cold build an affiliation and take advantage of those kinds of affiliations and relationships in Europe. I know many were excited to know that the whole Beswicks firm will be attending the Annual General Meeting in November to help the process of forging relationships abroad.”

The league’s leading partner, Nike Inc., also left quite an impression as meeting hosts and partners moving forward.

“Nike Inc. was a fantastic host for the event,” said Papadakis. “They stand firmly behind USL in their partnership with the organization. Joe Elsmore, Richard Nightingale, BJ Naedele, Maren Fawcett and the entire Nike Inc. organization were very gracious and thrilled to have us as visitors as well as partners. We are very thankful for their collaboration in arranging this meeting and in our partnership. There could not have been a better place to have brought everyone under one roof to launch a new era for the league.”

Clark and Rawlins were also impressed by the meeting.

“It was great to see the amazing facilities at the [Nike Inc.] headquarters,” said Clark. “Learning first-hand their capabilities in addition to what they will be offering the teams in USL and bringing to the table as sponsors was very informative.”

Rawlins echoed the comment, saying “It was a great location and [Nike Inc.] was a tremendous host. Their sponsorship agreement with USL is very exciting and their facility was first class.”   

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