The Elgin-Middlesex Soccer Association has taken over operation of its senior league, opening the door to what could be a dandy scrap for control of the league.
EMSA is this area's district soccer association. Earlier this month, EMSA sent a letter to the executive of the Western Ontario Soccer League, relieving them of their duties.
The parties have already had several heated meetings.
The now ex-WOSL isn't about to go quietly. Its former executive has called a meeting with all the teams in all the divisions of WOSL for early January to discuss the situation.
EMSA has responded by posting the following on the new WOSL website:
"A meeting posted on www.wosl.net for members and teams of WOSL on Sunday, January 7, 2007, at the Polish Hall has NOT been sanctioned by EMSA and any matters discussed will have no effect on EMSA's decisions."
Adam Saska, now ex-president of WOSL, said that type of thing is fairly typical of the response the league always gets from EMSA.
"They don't listen to the league and they don't communicate very well," Saska said, adding the meeting with WOSL teams will go as planned.
The bickering between WOSL and EMSA has been going on for years and has been acknowledged in the letter sent by EMSA to the WOSL executive.
"Over the past couple of years, there has been some debate between our executives, much of it being acrimonious, on several issues," reads the letter.
All of it came to a head at the end of this season when EMSA asked WOSL for $4,000 to pay the league's referee co-ordinator and WOSL refused payment.
That sparked the takeover of the league.
"It is now obvious that the situation between the EMSA executive and the current WOSL executive is totally untenable and, as such, EMSA council have decided they will assume control of the total operation and governance of its Senior District League. . . ."
The Ontario Soccer Association constitution allows EMSA, which reports to the OSA, to take over the league.
The appointment of a referee co-ordinator has been a bone of contention between the two bodies for a number of years. Much of it is focused on which referees are signed to specific games. WOSL wanted input into the assignment of referees, specifically getting top-rated referees to do senior games.
WOSL picked their own referee co-ordinator until two years ago and his fees where paid by EMSA from the fees paid by the teams.
EMSA picked a new co-ordinator two years ago. WOSL paid the fees the first year but did not do it this year.
That is but one problem that's cropped up between the WOSL executive and EMSA.
"There were complaints about the referee co-ordinator before and there's complaining now," said Bill Spence, president of EMSA. "We didn't want to take over the league. The last thing we want to do is run the league. All they had to do was pay the money for the referee co-ordinator and they would never have heard from us."
As is the norm in soccer, everyone has a different version of who's to blame and who can do what.
"There is nothing in the OSA constitution that says if they hire their own referee co-ordinator, the league has to pay for it. We didn't hire him. We had no input with him. By law, we think, we don't have to pay him," Saska said.
"The problem is we're not getting the referees out there. We are seeing the same individuals. The referees who are doing (Canadian Soccer League) games are not doing WOSL games."
EMSA has asked for all the league's paperwork, including the league's financial statements. Some of that paperwork has not yet been delivered.
Saska said the January meeting will go on as planned and expects the teams will agree to send a letter to EMSA indicating the teams want to run WOSL and want the executive put back in place.
There were earlier discussions about forming another league or stepping away from EMSA, but Saska doesn't want to go that route.
As for paying for the outstanding bill for the referee co-ordinator and agreeing to accept EMSA's decision on who the referee co-ordinator will be, Saska said that will be discussed.
"To be honest, the teams don't want to pay the referee co-ordinator because they feel they did not get the kind of referees they were entitled to," he said.