The Augusta Spartans and the indoor football league to which they belonged in their first year of play appear headed for a legal battle, after American Indoor Football League President Andrew Haines said Monday that he's planning to file a lawsuit against the Spartans and owner Jimmy Young.
Young, who announced last month that the Spartans would play in a new league next year, said he is confident a lawsuit against him would have no merit.
"We're in the process (of filing the suit) right now, and it should be done fairly shortly," Haines said. Haines claims Young has not stuck to the terms of the AIFL's contract with the Spartans, most significantly by moving the team into a competing league. He also claims Young and the Spartans still owe the AIFL thousands of dollars.
Young claims Haines and the AIFL breached the contract on several occasions and that he has not been reimbursed for expenses he took on from the AIFL.
Young and two other former AIFL owners, Harry Pierce of the Raleigh and Rome franchises and Kevin McDonald of the Daytona Beach franchise, helped start the World Indoor Football League in July after growing tired of business in the AIFL.
Each side says the other is at fault in a slew of financial disagreements, but nothing officially can be determined until the lawsuit is filed.
"It's just not an acceptable situation," Young said. "There are no bad feelings; there's just a lack of trust there. It just wasn't a very good business relationship."
Haines sold the Spartans to Young on Feb. 22, less than two weeks before the season opener. Haines says the league has fulfilled every obligation of the contract and has "one of the strongest cases" against Young and the Spartans.
"The long and short of it is that we have a contract with Mr. Young, and he hasn't filled the financial end of it," Haines said. "He owes us a substantial amount of money, and we're not just going to walk away and let him get out of his obligation.
"I'm pretty confident he won't be able to go to another league until he settles with us. ... We feel very strongly that the courts will uphold that."
Young, McDonald and WIFL director of communications Dan Ryan said the league has retained counsel.
"No matter what Andrew Haines throws at Jimmy Young, it isn't going to stick," McDonald said. That's why we all decided to leave; we'd been through enough."
The disputes range from alleged bounced checks to the sale of the league without teams' permission.
Young said he didn't think the AIFL and Haines had a chance in winning any lawsuit.
Unrelated to the matter, Milton Simmons, the finance manager for the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, said the Spartans still owe more than $3,000 in settlements for the fifth and sixth home games of this past season.
"They still have not paid what they owed for those two games," he said. "It's about $1,500 for each, maybe a little more."
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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