This action, confirmed by telephonic communication, comes as a complete surprise to the executives of the Eastern Soccer League and the U. S. F. A., magnates, who in considering all circumstances are at loss to understand why the Whalers experienced the change of heart.
The first inkling of New Bedford returning to the forces the club deserted less than two months ago was received in this city last night when conveyed to a representative of the Bethlehem team by "Bill" Cunningham, president of the league, over the long distance telephone. At the same time President Cunningham extended a cordial invitation to Bethlehem to align against organized soccer and again become a member of the American Soccer League.
After securing reinstatement form the U. S. F. A., New Bedford immediately affiliated with the Eastern Soccer League and posted the customary $500 deposit to complete the season. By the more recent action this deposit is forfeited together with the loss of certain profits in the big money games which are shortly to be played when the four teams qualifying in the respective half seasons meet in the round robin series for the Eastern Soccer League championship.
While influence on the part of the outlaw clubs might have been exclusive of commercial purpose, the same can hardly be said of New Bedford. The American Soccer League is practically through for the season and the big gates apparently will be forthcoming in the Eastern League championship series in which Bethlehem and the Hakoah All-Stars are among the two teams that qualified.
The apparent commercial motive of the league is seen in the weekend schedule which will have New Bedford playing at Fall River on Sunday. Just what action the U. S. F. A., will take will not be determined until Armstrong Patterson, president, arrives in New York over the weekend for a conference. However, it is expected that the severest penalty possible will be meted out to the Whalers as a team and also to the players as individuals.
The financial support of the New Bedford team, it is understood, is provided by Homer Messier, and it is further understood that the latter negotiated the transfer from one league to the other without consulting others interested in the club. During the two months New Bedford affiliated with the Eastern League the team was quite successful both from a playing standpoint and insofar as finances were involved. The team played to big gates at home and especially so in the games played in New York City.
Interviewed on what action would be taken relative to the invitation of the Bethlehem club joining the American Soccer League, the management was emphatic in stating that before Bethlehem besmirches the honor established in the past to play outlaw soccer, the team will disband entirely. However, no danger of such drastic action is foreseen and if anything, it is more probable that the efforts to strengthen the Eastern League clubs will be more determined than ever. It is even hinted that the new league after a year of experiment may invade the territorial domain of the American Soccer League and establish a war to the finish. The return of New Bedford to the American Soccer League is virtually the only victory scored by the outlaw aggregation in the long drawn out controversy.