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Philadelphia Spinners Leaving The AUDL, Starting New Pro League

by in Featured, News, Video with 18 Comments

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.

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About Charlie Eisenhood

Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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  • http://ultismatt.blogspot.com Smatt

    Call it the NUDL and later down the line there will be a merger and everything will be fine!

  • Bad Joke

    Well it certainly can’t be called the Professional Ultimate Disc League.

  • Mark

    I think this is for the best. The way that the AUDL was doing business wasn’t making many friends, and it certainly was not helping the sport grow. I think if the AUDL would have kept 8 teams for another year or two so they built a fan base, then expanded, I think things like this wouldn’t have happened.

  • Sherri Rose

    ♥Ultimate. love Coach Snader #hope let’s go!

  • Justin Fereshetian

    I’m glad that Philly is leaving the AUDL and I hope that many of the original 8 teams decide to join in as well, CTC and RI Rampage I would assume will jump on the opportunity and it sounds like the Alley Cats also aren’t happy with the way business was done, I think the Columbus Cranes are still in need of an owner, so it’s possible that they could follow along as well! Well maybe I’m getting into wishful thinking now, but I think this is the best move for Ultimate and these teams! I’m excited about whats to come and can’t wait to hear about Snader’s interview!

  • Justin Fereshetian

    And Smatt, I hope your prediction about a merger later down the line is right, I’m hoping for it too!

  • Steve I

    So all of this helps advance the spirit of the game…how?

  • ed

    don’t u guys see that any exposure to ultimate is good but bad news like the audl not surviving it’s first season could be really bad to our sport being taken seriusly. I admit we can still play ultimate and i’ll still love it but getting exposer and letting others enjoy ultimate is more important, and i don’t think killing the audl no matter how abusive they are to there teams will help.

  • Mark

    Every young league is going to have trouble when it first begins. Obviously, none of the current “Big 4″ or the MLS or any other sports league in the US started like they currently sit. There are going to be growing pains and disagreements and expansion. That being said, I don’t think the AUDL was heading in the right direction with their extremely quick expansion (8-15 originally, 8-12 minus Philly, RI, and Conn) and the way they resolved their issues with RI and Connecticut. In my opinion, the AUDL was looking for quicker financial gains than should be expected with a young league and an up-and-coming sport.

  • Justin Fereshetian

    ed, I don’t see the exposure that the AUDL gave Ultimate as bad in any way, actually I see it as a very good thing, I mean when else have Ultimate highlights been on the Sports Center Top 10 more often than this past Spring? But what I’m disappointed with about the AUDL is how poorly management of the League conducted them self. How is this league going to last in the long run if the Owner of the league is suing it’s very own teams in it’s inaugural season? Clearly Josh Moore doesn’t have the longevity of the AUDL in mind, rather he was to get cash from new franchises as fast as possible. That’s not how a league should be based. Also you mentioned that bad news could be bad for the sport being taken seriously, and while I would much rather people hear about Ultimate because of sick highlights and really athletic play which is extremely common in nearly any Ultimate game you watch, but the bottom line is that even with the awesome publicity that Ultimate got this season, people still don’t know about it, so any news will be better than no news and I agree that bad news is not ideal but its still something that people may hear and ask them selves “Ultimate Frisbee? What’s that?” But a league that lasts longer and can develop a larger fan base because it isn’t constantly adding and terminating teams will get the word out about Ultimate better than something that dies off after 5-10 years. If this new league can establish itself on a solid foundation of sound business principles and respect for it’s teams, players, coaches, officials, and team management it will be much better for Ultimate and promoting the sport than something short lived, like I envision the AUDL will be.

    • ed

      i agree that it gave great exposure to ultimate but there has been what seem like shady buisness deals and arguing and it doesn’t represent what ultimate was founded on and i would rather have a franchise with no problems but there will always be problems. having a profesional league was a great step forward, and i’m happy aslong as there is more ultimate too watch whether it’s a new league or not but i don’t think either of them will survive the split.

  • http://www.myalleycats.com Michael Potter

    What the AUDL did/has done is GREAT for Ultimate. I can’t thank them enough and pretty much loved the experience (even with the frustration). However, there is zero management and cooperation between the owners and the league or the owner and the owners. Completely un-sustainable. There has been a pile of empty promises (from all sides) and seemingly no intention to fix it.

    Example: The choice to have fully active officials was great. A real leap in moving Ultimate in a new direction (like it or not). However, the front office had no problem with the idea that you can pull someone off the street and with ZERO ultimate experience or training officiate a high level ultimate game. Hey, they didn’t even think it mattered to have any officials at a game at all! Fully active officiating with no officials on the field! Great vision – zero execution. Indianapolis had officials which averaged ~8 years of experience playing (conservative guess), one USAU observer, and a lead official that eventually attempted to train most of the other western division officials. Hats off AGAIN to Thom Held and Josh “KG” Kemmerling. Roger Oaks was a real asset too. However, the league wanted nothing to do with the suggestions of successful franchises such as Indy and Philadelphia.

    The good take away here is that the owners think professional ultimate is worth fighting for. It is worth pursuing different avenues when option 1 has lead to a dead end. The prospect of professional ultimate is so good that new owners continue to enter into the AUDL even when the 2 most successful franchises are telling them that there is no leadership at the top.

    This is very exciting for the Ultimate Community. People not playing or previously involved in Ultimate believe in the Sport enough to continue to fight for it.

    Fight On!

    • Sherri Rose

      @Mr. Potter well said!

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