Sacramento's soccer war may be nearing a peaceful resolution.
Following months of behind-the-scenes feuding, Sacramento Republic FC president Warren Smith and lead investor Kevin Nagle made “tremendous progress” toward settling a dispute that has threatened to derail the city's bid for a Major League Soccer team, Mayor Darrell Steinberg reported late Thursday.
Steinberg said the two men agreed to meet again Friday, following a four-hour negotiating session he mediated.
Representatives of both men agreed progress had been made.
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“We look forward to continuing this discussion (Friday) afternoon with the mayor and are committed to delivering for the Sacramento region,” the two men said in a statement released by the mayor's office.
Their statements were in sharp contrast from Wednesday's rancor, which overshadowed Sacramento submitting its official bid for an MLS franchise.
Smith founded Republic FC, the tremendously popular minor league soccer team, in 2014 and set it on a path toward a berth in MLS. Nagle, a multimillionaire pharmaceutical executive, assembled an ownership group to push the MLS effort forward. But Nagle hasn’t had control of Republic FC or its brand, and his efforts to buy the franchise from Smith have so far been unsuccessful.
Nagle and Smith have been unable to agree on a price.
Facing a Tuesday deadline to submit the MLS bid, Nagle filed the application without the Republic FC brand behind it. As word leaked out, diehard Republic FC fans howled that Nagle had abandoned the club, and Smith's camp issued a statement accusing Nagle of violating his business agreements by going ahead without the Republic FC stamp.
The city has been considered a heavy favorite for an MLS berth. Although it's possible the bid could go forward without the Republic FC's participation, Nagle has indicated he wants to created a united bid.