New Bedford is no longer a member of the outlawed American Soccer League. The rift in the ranks was effected in New York City last evening when the New England club, applying for reinstatement, was restored into the good graces of the United States Football Association, and admitted as a new member of the Eastern Soccer League.
Intimated in these columns that such action was likely to materialize the news will be less surprising to soccer fans in this vicinity than it will be to those in the New England sector where the New Bedford club is recognized as one of the most popular and formidable in that territory.
Present at the meeting when the reconciliation was affected was Armstrong Patterson, president of the U. S. F. A., who hastened on from Detroit to attend the meeting; Home Messler, treasure of the New Bedford soccer club: W. L. Lewis, of the Bethlehem team, and Thomas Cahill, secretary of the National body.
Three main reasons were presented by New Bedford for bolting the outlaw aggregation, one of which was the domineering attitude of several individuals and the contention that the league was run for the benefit of several of the clubs; disgusted at the tactics of players who were continually jumping their teams and now fully appreciating the protection of the parent body in this respect.
While New Bedford has been negotiating for several days the first inkling of the action was circulated down East this morning and it was learned over the long distance telephone that already one of the clubs responded with the challenge "the fight is now on in earnest."
Winning over the former renegade club is the greatest moral victory scored by the national association and its affiliated bodies since the start of the controversy. In previous skirmishes, some of which involved legal entanglements, the parent body always come out on top and in fact in almost all the warfare waged it was the outlaw aggregation that fell short.
Many of the league secrets were disclosed which bore our frequent statements that financially the circuit is not as healthy as the officers would have the fans believe and that there is plenty of discontent and dissatisfaction among the members.
In taking the initiative it is believed that more of the outlawed clubs will follow in the wake of the New Bedford team and if such is the case the league is threatened with complete collapse. Other clubs said especially to be dissatisfied with the manner in which the American League is conducting its business are Providence, Boston and J. & P. Coats. Teams alleged to have benefited most in the outlaw regime are Brooklyn, New York nationals and Sam Marks and his Fall River delegation.
The reconciliation with New Bedford presents many angles which must be ironed out and which will probably be prolonged until every phase is cleared up. The status of the New Englanders is again intact and the team is eligible to play. However, the players who jumped the club when the team was in a rival league and who were Stevens, Ballantyne and Maxwell, the latter with Bethlehem, were termed free agents and are not subject to recall.
On the other hand, any players who jumped clubs in organized soccer to play with the outlaw league are ineligible to participate for the team. In this respect New Bedford pays dearly for among the players who are on the ineligible list are Dave Edwards, James and William Barrie, former Bethlehem players who deserted the club when luring offers were made to play with the American League teams. It is understood that a wholesale raid had been planned on the Bethlehem team and that although this trio of players were with New Bedford the negotiations were carried on by Sam Marks.
Insofar as their status with the parent body is concerned, they are ineligible. Relative tot heir contracts with New Bedford, that is for them to fight out. It is understood that if the trio of players are restored into good graces which is possible only after substantial fines are paid and signing on money involved be returned to the clubs that paid this fee, New Bedford is willing to renew their contracts and at the wages they received with the Bethlehem team. The amount of these fines is not definitely known but at the rate of $50 for every game participated in it will probably total between $1,000 and $1,500 for each.
By the action of the New Bedford team it is quite apparent that sentiment in that city is entirely with the National body otherwise the team would have remained satisfied to fight it out with the warring circuit.
While the New Englanders are somewhat wrecked by the loss of half dozen that before the end of the week there would be many new faces in the lineup. There is no parent body regulation preventing the club from seeking players with the outlaw teams and it is understood that quite a few of these will jump at the opportunity of playing with a team and again be protected by the parent body.
As a member of the Eastern Soccer League, New Bedford will play the first circuit game at home on Sunday and with no other than Bethlehem, the best drawing card ever to invade that sector, as the opponent. There will be no game in Bethlehem over the weekend.