The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have repeatedly struggled to pay players and staff on time, according to multiple anonymous sources.
According to sources, the club’s checks to players have bounced for three pay cycles during the 2016 NASL Season. Players have had to wait up to a week for funds to be sufficient in the front office’s account.
Strikers players are paid by the team in bi-monthly installments, with checks given on the 15th and at the end of the month. Most recently, Strikers players were to be paid at the end of June. Players were given checks on time, but the club requested that players wait until a later date to take the funds. When players attempted to cash their checks before that date, they bounced due to insufficient funds. Player checks didn’t clear until late Wednesday, July 6.
“Lack of planning? Not really.” -Luis Cuccatti, Managing Director, Fort Lauderdale Strikers
The news of the team’s difficulties in making promised payments has come amid a week of player turmoil which has become public.
On Friday morning Pedro Heizer, who covers the Strikers, tweeted that the club would cut ties with Brazilian midfielder Adrianinho, who had been one the marquee signings of the team’s offseason. News of his departure came just a day after the team officially released Matheus Carvalho, another Brazilian midfielder, whose time on loan at Monaco had marked him among the league’s premier young talents. FiftyFive.One had also previously learned that the Strikers had agreed to trade American forward Giuseppe Gentile to the Ottawa Fury for Brazilian forward Paulo Jr.
Carvalho had not featured in the team’s draw against Miami FC in the first week of the fall season. Gentile was used as a substitute, while Adrianinho remained on the bench.
FiftyFive.One has learned that players and agents have reached out to Rishi Sehgal, the NASL’s Director of Business Development and Legal Affairs. However, it does not appear as though the league was able to provide any assurance that the matter would be taken care of.
This news comes at a time where the club is transitioning out of their current stadium. The club has played at Lockhart Stadium since 2011, with sources confirming that the club pays minimal rental costs but is on the hook for any stadium maintenance. However, Neil Morris tweeted out that the club would be moving to Central Broward Regional Park during the fall season. The Park, used primarily for cricket matches, also houses the MLS’s annual Player Combine before their SuperDraft. Broward Regional Park is a marked upgrade to the team’s current stadium with seatbacks and boxes. Sources report the team is already using the facilities as their training ground.
While the club has yet to move away from Lockhart, sources are expecting the first home match at Central Broward to take place on either July 30 (against Jacksonville Armada) or August 20 (against Ottawa Fury). The Strikers host Carolina RailHawks on July 16 in what may be their final match at Lockhart.
Kwadwo Poku’s $700k transfer to Miami FC (on the heels of their $750k signing of Richie Ryan) has caused a frenzy of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Is it a sign of NASL growth or the soccer-pocalypse.
READ: Poku and the Age of Panic in the NASL.
We spoke with Luis Cuccatti, the managing director of the Strikers. He confirmed that the team has been late on their payroll three separate times during the 2016 season. He clarified that the first two delays lasted 24 hours, with the third instance being a four-day delay. “I’m not downgrading this situation — I understand how serious it is… When you transfer funds from Brazil to the United States, it goes through a process to ensure it isn’t being used for any illegal purposes. Lack of planning? Not really. This will be the last time that this happens.”
A spokesperson for the NASL also responded to our inquires about the late payment to Fort Lauderdale staff and players. They stated, “When the league learns of situations like this, we want to help in any way possible. The function of the league office is to help teams from the league level on issues, whether they’re positive or negative.”
Wes Burdine, Brian Quarstad, and Alex Schieferdecker contributed to this report.