OPEN LETTER TO THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY SOCCER COMMUNITY

  

            You have undoubtedly received communications from your club leadership via e-mail or their web sites describing certain issues that affect the clubs relationship with the Maryland SoccerPlex. You may also have seen articles in the newspaper or on television attempting to describe the issues raised by the clubs.

 

            As you read this letter please ask yourself, Why arent the kids playing at the SoccerPlex this fall, while the clubs and the Foundation sit down and talk?

 

            On the surface, the primary issue being raised is the cost to play a game at the SoccerPlex. The following is a history of the game fees charged at the SoccerPlex:

 

2002                             $292.50 per game

2002                                                          $288.00 per game

2003                                                          $288.00 per game

2004                                                          $300.00 per game

 

The fee has increased a total of $7.50 over a four year period of time, or less than 1% per year.  During this period of time, the fees have been authorized by the Board of the Maryland Soccer Foundation of which your club has been a Board member and these fees have been paid by all of the clubs.  This past spring 2005, the fees were $300.00 and all of the clubs paid them for both league and tournament games.

 

            So what has happened that has resulted in the controversy surrounding the SoccerPlex?  It certainly cannot just be the level of the fees being charged by the SoccerPlex because they have been virtually flat for four years.

 

            For recreation and classic teams, why are your children not playing at the SoccerPlex when you have paid their registration fees to enable them to play?

 

            Why is your travel team club not allowing your kids to play at the SoccerPlex this season when they did so last season?  What has changed?

 

            HERE IS THE ANSWER - The only change that has occurred since the 2005 budget for the SoccerPlex was voted on and passed by the Board on November 22, 2004 has been a Board decision to address governance structure issues at the Foundation.  A majority of the members of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Soccer Foundation (including two club members) voted to remove from the Board of Directors those individuals who were elected solely to represent a soccer club on our Board.  This vote occurred on June 27, 2005.  The club representatives would instead be part of an Advisory Committee reporting to the Board as originally contemplated in the Foundations 1998 By-Laws. 

 

            The attempt to have a properly functioning Board with club members who not only had a conflict of interest with the goals of the Foundation but actively voted that conflict of interest was a failure.  The Board decision to move the club directors to an Advisory Committee was on the basis of two independent legal opinions. Each concluded that having directors who serve specifically to represent their club on the Foundation Board created a conflict of interest that was unacceptable with the best practice standards of today for governance of non-profit organizations.  All Foundation Board members were given the legal opinions to review many weeks before the Board took up the matter.  None of the clubs put forth any legal opinions to refute the recommendations provided to the Board from outside counsel. 

 

After the Board vote, the six clubs (Potomac, Bethesda, Damascus, Seneca Soccer, MSI, and WISL) waged a public campaign to damage the Foundation and the SoccerPlex. The Foundation is meant to serve all of Montgomery County in a manner consistent with the status of the SoccerPlex as an important civic asset and having Board members actively voting for their interests over that of the Foundations is unacceptable.  The clubs are free to pursue whatever strategies they deem appropriate to further their interests, but not while voting on Foundation business as a member of the Board.

 

MSF Board members are volunteers and reap no financial or personal benefits from serving on the board.  Our only interest is finding the means to provide the best fields possible for the kids.  After all, the SoccerPlex was created for the players, not the clubs. 

 

For a few examples of conflicts of interest by the clubs, click here.

 

We could go on and on over the governance struggles that the Foundation has faced with the clubs on its board.  But it brings us back to the issue at hand. 

 

Why are your children not playing at the SoccerPlex this fall? 

 

            Here are the questions to ask your club leadership

 

Is it fair to keep the kids on strike and not playing at the SoccerPlex when the league fees are the same as the last four years?

 

Is it fair to keep the kids on strike because the tournament game fees for the prestige tournaments (for which 85% of the participating teams are from out of town) were increased to match the league fees?  And these tournament fees were paid for 2005 tournaments.

 

Why did the clubs refuse to sign the agreement presented by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (which the Foundation signed the very day it was presented to us) which called for the clubs to continue playing league games at the SoccerPlex this fall at the same fees as in the spring of 2005 while the Commission discussed all issues with the parties?

The bottom line is:

 

The SoccerPlex is open for business to all those families that believe that their kids should be playing here.  We hope that you seriously question your club leadership on these issues.  We are available to answer any of your questions and to provide any further information at your request.

 

We will be posting on our website more detailed information on each of these issues, please check the website often for updates.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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