December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Bank sues Friedel soccer academy over unpaid loans

ELYRIA — A bank Friday sued Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain in Common Pleas Court, contending it is owed $7,579,107 from three unpaid loans.

The lawsuit was filed by RBS Citizens, National Association, which does business as Charter One.

The suit seeks a judgment and “immediate payment” on three loans plus interest totaling $6,171,164, $870,836 and $537,107. The suit stated the soccer academy had made some payments on the principal.

The suit also names Friedel as a defendant. The suit listed an address on Lake Road in Bay Village for Friedel, who still plays professional soccer in England.

The loans were granted on Feb. 11, 2008. The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Raymond J. Ewers.

Craig Umland, chief operating officer of the academy, was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon. There were several cars in the parking lot of the academy on Leavitt Road, but no one answered phones or intercoms.

The $10 million facility opened two years ago to great acclaim as the first full-scholarship youth soccer academy in the United States. It operates as a not-for-profit corporation.

Several weeks ago, the academy canceled soccer programs for the summer and laid off most of its staff of about a dozen people.

Umland said on June 3 the academy was suffering from cutbacks in corporate sponsorship due to the poor economy. He said many companies preferred to hold onto an employee versus putting money into sponsoring students at the academy.

Umland said the academy would “strip down to the core” this summer and would attempt to offer its residential soccer program for a fee beginning in the fall.

He said it would require a yearly fee of some $37,500 and a minimum of 15 or so participants.

Umland also said he was working on a plan to open the state-of-the-art facilities to health club memberships costing $35 to $50 a month.

During that June 3 interview, Umland said the academy is current on its mortgage and made a large payment on the principal.

Up until now, the academy provided entirely free training to promising youth soccer players from around the world.

Several individuals involved in soccer programs said they thought the financial troubles at the academy was very sad, but hoped Friedel could pull the facility out of the downspin.

Soccertimes.com reported last summer that Friedel, a former World Cup player and Bay High School graduate, had transferred from the Blackburn Rovers across the English Premiere League to Aston Villa. The story stated Villa paid Blackburn a reported $5 million fee for Friedel, a goalkeeper, who was reported to have signed a three-year contract for about $4 million.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.