By Michael Lewis
Soccer United Marketing has disputed Rocco Commisso’s claim that the organization’s attempt to purchase the Cosmos in 2016 was intended to “eliminate the organization as a competitor.”
“Any suggestion by Mr. Commisso that SUM’s conduct was in any way improper is without any merit,” SUM said in a statement Tuesday night.
In court papers, Commisso said SUM offered to buy the Cosmos for $5 million last year — with certain stipulations.
SUM released a statement, giving its side of the story.
“Yesterday, in litigation that NASL and Rocco Commisso (the new owner of NASL club the NY Cosmos) are pursuing against the United States Soccer Federation, Mr. Commisso placed in the public record a bid that Soccer United Marketing (SUM) made for certain intellectual property and related assets of the NY Cosmos in 2016, before his purchase of the team,” the statement said.
“The facts behind that bid are that SUM, the marketing, licensing and commercial affiliate of Major League Soccer, was informed that the Cosmos were going out of business and were trying to sell its commercial assets for as much money as possible to pay its creditors. Those assets included the Cosmos name, a film library, the use of Pele’s likeness in connection with Cosmos-related merchandise, etc. As one of the leading soccer commercial companies in the United States representing a wide variety of soccer properties, SUM placed a bid for these soccer-related commercial opportunities with the view that it could develop merchandise and other products for the public.
“As a part of its bid, SUM included common provisions that the seller — the prior owner of the Cosmos — would not devalue those assets and create consumer confusion by operating a new team in the New York metropolitan area for 10 years. SUM’s bid was not successful, and it made no further efforts to buy the assets. Any suggestion by Mr. Commisso that SUM’s conduct was in any way improper is without any merit.”
In Commisso’s declaration in the North American Soccer League’s reply to U.S. Soccer’s response to its lawsuit, the Cosmos owner and chairman of the board of governors included an email from New York City FC president Jon Patricof, who presented an offer from SUM to the soccer team.
According to the email, the proposal required the Cosmos and the team’s owners not to own or operate a soccer team in the metro New York area under any name for 10 years, Commisso said.
SUM has ties to Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer.
The NASL has filed for a preliminary injunction to keep the league at Division II status and has filed an anti-trust against U.S. Soccer.
A hearing is scheduled before U.S. District Court Judge Margo K. Brodie in Brooklyn, N.Y. Oct. 31.