UPDATE (9:30 PM): Jeff Snader, Philly’s owner and GM, confirmed in an interview with Steve Lienert that the Spinners are leaving the league and joining a new professional Ultimate league. The details of the league are yet to emerge. Video of the interview is now available.
UPDATE (10/5): Ultiworld spoke with Lienert late tonight about the interview. Lienert said Snader wasn’t happy about the AUDL’s “business model with the teams being left to their own devices. Once [the league] got the money from the franchise, there was no help from the league.”
Lienert explained how Snader isn’t concerned about being sued because he has a “piece of paper with Josh’s signature on it that protects him” after reworking his contract mid-season. The Spinners will be able to keep their brand and their logo moving forward.
Finally, Lienert said that Snader will be a central figure in a new professional league, the details of which are yet to be unveiled. Snader himself may not lead the league, but “he will be involved in the hierarchy.”
Early this morning, Steve Lienert, a referee in the American Ultimate Disc League and a writer for the Philadelphia Spinners, announced on Twitter that the Spinners organization will be leaving the AUDL. Lienert will be publishing an interview tonight with Jeff Snader, Philadephia’s owner and general manager.
There are also unconfirmed reports of a new professional Ultimate league starting up to rival the AUDL. The details of this are unknown and it remains speculation.
Emerson Kilgore, the owner of the Rhode Island Rampage (who were recently kicked out of the league), said that Snader “was very unhappy with the way business was being done” in the league.
Lienert told Ultiworld, “The lawsuits in the AUDL are a factor; to what extent remains to be seen. A lot of bad business and empty promises forced/prompted the move.”
The Spinners won the inaugural AUDL championship over the Indianapolis Alleycats in August. They have been having a fire sale on gear in their store, possibly a leading indicator of their decision to leave the league.
We will have much more on this story as the news unfolds today. Stay tuned for details.
UPDATE (11:49 AM): Spinners sources will neither confirm nor deny any of the above reporting.
UPDATE II (12:15 PM): Thom Held, the owner of the Indianapolis Alleycats, said the Spinners “left [the league] a while ago.” He added that he knows of “a couple people that are working on [a new professional league]…One of the other owners said there was another league in the works.”
Whether or not the Alleycats join that league is uncertain. “As far as another league goes, I don’t know really what I can say,” he said. “I want what’s best for my business. This may sound strange – I would love to see the AUDL make some changes and be successful.”
In an interview a month ago, Held said that he was thinking about starting a rival league. “I feel like I have a better chance of taking ourselves, Connecticut, and Philly,” he said. “I think the three of us could broker more sponsorships for ourselves and stay out of the agreements with the [AUDL].”
His primary concern is the organizational structure of the league. Since his job is to build the brand of his team, he wants it to be so that everyone’s incentive is to help him do that. The current setup, he says, doesn’t do that.
UPDATE III (1:15 PM): When Indy suggested they might start a new pro league of their own, we wrote this article about the legal issues behind such a move. The analysis holds for Philadelphia.