This week’s stories about the Columbus Crew under Gregg Berhalter should be focused on their Thursday playoff date with Atlanta United, one which has the potential to be an all-timer in terms of desperation entertainment from two hungry, fun teams.
But instead of talking about whether Federico Higuain will ride off into the sunset in a manner befitting of a Crew legend, we’re talking about season ticket refunds and relocation and the sloppiest way to go about ruining a positive time in the MLS calendar.
Crew owner Anthony Precourt is trying to engineer a relocation of original MLS club Columbus Crew to Austin courtesy of a “Hey, maybe I’ll stay” guise which is about as thinly veiled as the garlic Paulie chops for his prison sauce in “Goodfellas.”
Precourt was initially not going to allow refunds to season ticket holders ahead of the 2018 season, as the club will still be in Ohio (and could, we must say, stick around beyond that especially as Austin isn’t exactly begging for another town’s team). Now he is, for about a week, from ColumbusCrewSC.com:
“I remain hopeful that our passionate supporters will cheer for the Club under these difficult circumstances, but I recognize that some of you would like the opportunity to secure a refund for 2018 MLS regular-season season packages purchased prior to PSV’s recent announcement. Effective today at 2:00 p.m. ET and up until 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday November 3, we will provide 2018 Season Ticket Members with a window to secure a full refund for 2018 Season Ticket Memberships should that be your preference. 2018 Season Ticket Members who previously purchased season tickets for the 2018 season and wish to secure a refund shall be eligible for a full refund prior to the November 3 deadline by following the link in the email that was sent today to Season Ticket Members. Playoff tickets committed for the 2017 MLS Playoffs will not be eligible for a refund. Our players and coaching staff leave everything on the field, match after match, and they are performing at an incredible level as we enter the playoffs. Although I know you are upset with the recent announcement, I hope you will still consider honoring our players with your support during this playoff run and beyond.”
There’s so much “damned if you, damned if you don’t” here. Imagine: you love your club and don’t want it to leave, but also don’t want to give Precourt any more money than necessary. And Precourt can then say, “Well, this town didn’t really love the club, anyway.”
(Trust me, as a Buffalonian who had to live with a decade-plus of relocation rumors for the Buffalo Bills, I know a bit about a community being held hostage. Even when it turns out well, with the Pegulas pledging to keep the Bills and Sabres here forever, you never forget the angst of your childhood teams having an uncertain future because a league or owner could make more money).
This comes about a week after the Crew owner posted what is perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious pair of Tweets in American soccer history (It’s still baffling he hasn’t deleted the second tweet). Read on, and then imagine what it takes to think, “Hmmm, us. Doesn’t seem right given I’m going to rip their team from them. I better correct that to say, ‘You all.'”