Greed for Entire Receipts, Bethlehem's Undoing
In the opinion of many soccer prophets the newly organized American League, which was organized during the summer months, is going to mourn the abandonment and loss of the Bethlehem F. C. long before the season's campaigning, which starts on September 10, is ended. As a drawing card, these critics contend, that Bethlehem was the foremost luminary and the decision of the local management in disbanding the club is possibly solely responsible to the greed of the club owners in voting to retain the entire receipts of the home games. Had the percentage plan been favorably endorsed, Bethlehem would undoubtedly have remained in the circuit and who can tell but that this would have been the home year for a grand revival in the interest of the sport. It is pointed out that the Kerr Alpaca team of Holyoke, Mass., is not exactly a desirable successor to the Bethlehem club but that the Massachusetts aggregation was taken on to complete an eight club circuit. The contention is that the time lost by players visiting Holyoke will be an added financial burden where had Bethlehem remained as a member of the circuit, teams traveling could have made the trip, played the game and returned home in practically the same day. The fact that Bethlehem failed to draw record breaking crowds in its home lair surely did not detract as records show from its drawing power on visiting grounds. In fact it was the cup games on visiting grounds with Bethlehem in the final that drew the biggest crowds in the past years. Therefore, a percentage basis, something like sixty-forty or even fifty-fifty would probably in the long run have proved more profitable financially than take-all-the-money plan adopted for games on the home grounds.
Predicts Financial Failure
Benefiting as far as his home town is concerned by the elimination of the Bethlehem team in the new league, Levi Wilcox, a Philadelphia sports scribe and staunch devotee of soccer, is one of the Eastern boosters of the sport who deeply regrets the abandonment of the Bethlehem team. He intimates that the Holyoke, Mass., eleven is a poor substitute for the strong and reputed Bethlehem delegation and severely pans the percentage arrangement agreed upon in the distribution of the gate receipts. Wilcox apparently thinks it is all wrong and predicts a financial failure. In arriving at this conclusion he says:
"From our experience in managing soccer teams, we are of the firm opinion that the American Soccer League will not prove a success financially, particularly when each club is compelled to rely upon its own drawing power on its home lot. The weaker clubs, and especially those whose grounds are not centrally located, so that they are easily accessible during the winter months, will feel the effects, particularly if some of their big matches should unfortunately be scheduled when the elements are unfavorable."
Lauds Merits of Bethlehem Clan
having been an ardent admirer and close follower of the sport for a number of years, trailing from one ground to another to witness the most important clashes, which incidentally included Bethlehem as one of the principals in the last seven or eight years, Wilcox deplores the loss of the Bethlehem Club as a severe blow to the league. He lauds the merits of the clan that once represented Bethlehem and credits the defunct local team as having been the strongest drawing card on the road. "In all of their away cup matches, Bethlehem always played to big crowds," he says. "Their record for the last few years, together with the fact that the Up-Staters played the open style game and were recognized as the strongest team in the East proved the magnet to draw the spectators to the box office." In panning the league magnates, he says, "Had the American Professional league adopted the safe and sane policy of giving each club an equal chance of finishing its schedule by adopting the percentage plan, Bethlehem would have remained in the circuit and would therefore have given the league and the clubs connected with it such a strong asset that some of the weaker clubs, not only when they met Bethlehem, but other teams in the league, a chance to at least break even on their expenses. By not adopting the percentage policy the magnates cut off their noses to spite their faces, the result of which will be awaited with interest."
Had No Intention to Commercialize the Sport
In conference with local magnates frequently during the existence of the Bethlehem Club and more particularly during the process of organizing the new circuit, it was made known that the Bethlehem promoters did not expect to commercialize on the sport in view of reaping large financial rewards, but rather were fostering the game purely for love of the sport and were perfectly satisfied if the receipts covered the expenses or came anywhere near reaching the mark to operate. The persistency with which these men stuck to maintaining the Bethlehem team in face of the yearly deficits and personally contributed the money necessary to operate, fully indicate that commercializing the sport had not once entered their minds. This apparently is not the attitude of the other club owners, who appear to be in the sport for all they can gain.
Philadelphia Will Benefit
That it is purely love for the sport that has kept the local magnates in the game is again indicated by the interest taken in organizing and developing the Philadelphia team. The local men, however, are not alone in promoting the Quakers but are lending their assistance and giving their experience to get a representative team started. It is understood that once the Philadelphia club is going, which will probably be at the expiration of the first year, all active local interest will be withdrawn and the only association with the sport in the future will be as sideline spectators. The Quakers will profit by the disbanding of the Bethlehem club but nevertheless regret the withdrawal of the club from the field. It is believed that the Philadelphia F. C. will include every player formerly with the great Bethlehem machine last season. This together with the inclusion of several stars who have recently arrived in this country from England and Scotland. Therefore the city should be represented by the strongest team that ever sported the Quaker colors.