July 31, 2014

Elyria
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Bank blocks sale offer for struggling soccer academy

LORAIN — Brad Friedel said in a letter sent to media Wednesday that he remains “totally committed” to his struggling soccer school in Lorain.

He said ROK Entertainment, a media company based in the United Kingdom, has made a multi-million dollar offer to purchase Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies, but that it was rejected by Charter One Bank, the bank to which Friedel owes more than $7.6 million in loans and interest.

In June, a county judge ordered Friedel and the academy to immediately make good on the loans, which the soccer star had fallen behind on. Last week, the bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Friedel and his parents to get his parents’ Avon Lake home.

Friedel owns the home and had used it as collateral on the loans he took out to support the academy in February 2008.

In his letter, Friedel said he was surprised that Charter One rejected the offer from ROK Entertainment, where company officials did not return an e-mail request for comment Wednesday.

Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain. (CT file photo.)

Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain. (CT file photo.)

“We are still at the table and I will not stop until this academy and facility are successful, ROK is very keen to complete the buyout,” Friedel wrote in the letter, adding that he hopes the issue will be resolved in the coming weeks.

The academy opened in 2007 to much fanfare for the $10 million facility and its initial class of students, who were all on paid scholarships largely supported by corporate sponsors.

But the recession has plunged the nonprofit venture into financial turmoil and led to the cancellation of its summer slate of activities and the layoffs of all but one paid staffer, Chief Operating Officer Craig Umland, who did not return a call seeking comment.

Umland had said he hoped to keep the soccer academy open by charging a yearly fee of approximately $37,500, but that plan fell apart when only three boys applied. Umland had said at least 15 students would have been needed to operate the residential soccer academy.

The facility is now trying to branch out and serve as a venue for other sporting events.

“Our non-profit organization has struggled since the collapse of the world economy,” Friedel wrote in his letter. “Saying that, we are persevering the best we can.”

A native of Bay Village, Friedel is a goalkeeper for the Aston Villa football club in Great Britain.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.