MLS president Mark Abbott explained on Wednesday that the league expects discussions to continue toward a unified expansion effort between Sacramento Republic, led by president Warren Smith, and the prospective MLS ownership group, Sac Soccer Entertainment & Holdings headed by Kevin Nagle.
The Sacramento expansion bid submitted ahead of Tuesday’s deadline by Sac Soccer did not include the USL side, but Abbott indicated that MLS had been aware for several months that the negotiations hadn’t yet resulted in a deal between the two sides.
"The process for the Sacramento bid began quite some time ago, and there have been ongoing discussions between Kevin Nagle and his group and Warren Smith and the Sac Republic about coming together with a joint bid to acquire a Major League Soccer expansion club,” Abbott said in a Wednesday media conference call. "And in fact, the league was involved in those discussions. The commissioner personally was involved in those discussions last fall.
"And recently it became clear, I think, that they had some issues that still required resolution before they could come together and present a united bid. But the deadline was yesterday, and so Kevin and his group moved forward, submitting a bid and discussing the expansion plan and their ownership group. But as Kevin said earlier today, it was their intention to continue the discussions with Warren and the Republic, and it remains their intention to seek a situation where they can present a united bid. And our perspective at the league is, we should allow those discussions to play out."
Hours after both sides issued separate statements early Wednesday, Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg stepped in to offer his assistance and help the groups arrive at a resolution.
"I’m going to have the parties into my office [on Thursday] and we’re going to resolve this dispute,” Steinberg said in a press conference. "The issues. as I understand them, are private business matters but they’re eminently resolvable."
A report by SI.com’s Brian Straus late Wednesday indicated that Sacramento Republic will be attending the meeting and Nagle also tweeted on Wednesday night: “We look forward to completing the deal with SRFC and finishing our journey unified as one team and one community."
"Despite this kerfuffle, I think we will look back on this after a short period of time and certainly years from now when we are cheering for our Major League Sacramento soccer team, we'll look back on this as a minor blip on the screen here and a minor obstacle,” Mayor Steinberg noted. "But as the mayor of the city I have to make sure I do everything in my power to bring the parties together and say, 'Your interests may be important, but the city’s and community’s interests come first,' … I’m feeling fine about it. This is going to work out."