By Chris Hockman-San Antonio Examiner
The announcement comes as a surprise, and confirms a flurry of rumors that began on Friday that the club would move to Orlando.
The move has left a large number of soccer fans in South Texas shocked and disgusted, with the Aztex not only improving on the field, but also off it, yet a 25% increase in attendance at games was not enough for the owners to remain in Austin.
For Orlando’s part, they are trying to paint the move not as ‘stealing’ the Aztex but as a new team being set up in Orlando that coincidently has the same owner as the Aztex. This may be so, the ownership structure is very slightly different, yet the players and coaching staff will be moving to Orlando and Phil Rawlins is still the majority owner of the club, who says that his hands were tied and the new investors would only invest if there was a move away from Austin.
The interesting thing in all of this is that Phil Rawlins isn’t a billionare in this game for a quick buck, like we see Americans doing to British clubs. Rather this is a man who knows the game well, and is on the board of Stoke City in England, a man who should have known that soccer clubs don’t make money, certainly not in their first two years of existence. Yet Rawlins has chosen to chase the money to Orlando rather than build a following in Austin.
The whole move has been poorly handled by the Aztex, as they failed to give their fans any notice of anything happening until the announcement of the new team. The fans of Austin are understandably hurt and betrayed, especially after the Aztex won two community relations awards from the chamber of commerce.
The move is completely at odds with Rawlins’ statement upon starting the club in Austin, “My goal is to make the Aztex a community-based club that the Austin area can be proud of.” Unfortunately just as Rawlins was on the verge of achieving this goal, he decided that he’d rather go with money.
South Texas has lost a great rivalry before it even started, here’s hoping we will see a new club rise up in Austin to compete against our San Antonio team.