Hold your horses

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

Reports of the Calgary Mustangs' demise might be greatly exaggerated.

That's what co-owner Juergen Hanne said yesterday after the Tampa-based United Soccer Leagues announced the 'Stangs wouldn't be running in the A-League next season.

Hanne said the club plans on taking a one-year hiatus from the loop and returning in 2006.

"We had three partners and the one German partner didn't come up with the money but that's not the main thing," said Hanne.

"The main thing is we don't have a venue -- we don't want to play on the same turf again at McMahon Stadium."

The idea now is to find six new investors who can kick in $100,000 each so the team can buy the new, rubber-based artificial turf for McMahon.

"If the turf is in, that's fine and we go ahead,"said Hanne, adding the team would then commit to three years in the A-League.

USL officials had granted the Mustangs a one-year grace period where they could play on the current turf at McMahon, which doesn't conform to league regulations.

But now that the year is up and new turf hasn't been implemented, the club couldn't move ahead for the 2005 season.

"We can just leave a season out and come back really strong the next year," said Hanne, who along with John Torode, owns the team that went 4-18-6 in 2004.

Torode and Hanne each put $125,000 into the team last season as poor weather and a paltry fan turnout dogged the club.

Edmonton and Syracuse also will not be included in the 2005 schedule, USL officials said.

"It is very unfortunate to lose these three markets, which we feel have great potential," USL vice-president Tim Holt said in a statement. "We still strongly believe Calgary, Edmonton and Syracuse have a future in USL; however, it was not in the short-term interest of USL and its other member franchises to continue in those markets for 2005."

The announcement leaves the champion Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto Lynx as the Canadian entries in the 13-club A-League.


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