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af2: No pay, no playoff

July 29, 2009
Special to the Breeze,

CHICAGO - Nonpayment of more than $100,000 of fees owed the league is the reason the arenafootball2 league ruled the Florida Firecats ineligible for postseason play, the league announced Tuesday in an email statement.

The af2 released the 2009 ArenaCup playoff pairings Monday, which included 16 teams that met those qualifications. Even though the Firecats (7-9) qualified for the postseason on the field, they were left off the playoff schedule and replaced by Albany (7-9).

The $100,000 amount is comprised chiefly of player and coaches payroll for a large portion of the 2009 season.

Several months ago the Firecats organization submitted a financial offer to the full af2 Board of Directors that, if accepted and carried out, would not have paid all of the Firecats' obligations, but would allow them to play the remainder of their regular season games. The af2 Board approved the offer, which meant 24 other af2 operators paid Firecats players and coaches weekly.

The Firecats did not complete the financial commitments in their offer. They were required to be in good standing for the playoffs like every other team. As of 1 p.m. Monday, they had not made such payment, so by league rules became ineligible for the playoffs.

"It is unfortunate the Firecats' fans, players, and coaches will not have playoffs after a good season of football," said Paul Ross, Tulsa Talons owner and Chairman of af2's Finance Committee. "It is unconscionable that any team owner would force his partners to pay his team payroll and other league expenses, and then expect for them to overlook his actions, ignore league rules that he had adopted 10 years before, and allow his team to participate in the playoffs."

Ross continued, "It's this simple: while The Florida Firecats qualified for playoffs on the field, their ownership disqualified them by not paying their bills."

The ArenaCup playoffs begin this weekend.



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