rysa

The Rockdale Youth Soccer Association might not run recreational soccer teams for the spring season for the first time in decades.

The Dutch investor and companies connected to him entered into a contract to buy the soccer organization’s assets and lease the facilities in early 2023, promising an infusion of cash as well as repairs and upgrades to the facility and fields at Old Salem and Flat Shoals roads. This led to the organization becoming embroiled in litigation. The soccer organization was founded in 1972.

In February 2023, the RYSA board declared that Patrick Vierhout, the owner of Sportiff USA LLC, a sports apparel manufacturer, had agreed to buy RYSA’s assets. Vierhout also intended to spend $5 million and settle the board of directors’ debt. Since then, coaches have quit after going weeks without receiving a salary, and board members have resigned.

Vierhout responded by email last week from the Netherlands, stating that he was unaware of the collapse of the deal to buy RYSA’s assets. Additionally, he attributed the nonpayment of employees to an American investor’s inability to provide the promised funds on December 21 and December 28, citing “banking issues.”

Vierhout stated in his email that he was “doing everything to resolve it now” and that “at this moment I am working again on the financing from Europe.” He added that “we should be able to pay everyone again before the 15th of March.”

Additionally, Vierhout designed a large soccer complex at the Georgia International Horse Park on Conyers city property. Vierhout and the city signed an agreement for Vierhout to pay $7.2 million for the land. But according to the city, the arrangement collapsed because he didn’t pay the $716,425 in earnest money by the agreed-upon date.

Vierhout would also receive a majority stake in the semi-pro USL 2 East Atlanta Football Club, which is situated at RYSA, according to the announcement made by RYSA in February 2023. According to team management, the East Atlanta FC was never moved to Vierhout and is still situated at RYSA.

Richard Saturday was a member of the RYSA board at the time that Vierhout’s contract was decided upon. In the end, Saturday claimed that Vierhout extended an opportunity to him to become director of operations, which he accepted. According to Saturday, there were red flags from the start.

When he refused to grant me financial access during the first week, Saturday stated, “My red flags went up, and I started asking more and more questions.”

Bills were not being paid shortly after, and the power provider threatened to cut off the facility’s energy, according to Saturday. According to Saturday, outfits were being bought from Vierhout’s company, and player registration money were being collected concurrently. Saturday stated that he opted to step down after 45 days without receiving payment.

At the end of January, the head coach and director of soccer operations both announced their resignations.

Vierhout claimed he was not aware that on January 26, the RYSA board of directors had started the eviction process against Sportiff Real Estate, the company that leased the facilities. He claimed that although he had requested documentation of the eviction, he had not yet received any.

More than soccer families have suffered as a result of the botched RYSA sale, according to Kelly Shirah, who has worked as the organization’s facilities director for more than ten years.

“Talking about it causes it to grow exponentially because you are talking about a community,” Shirah, who started playing at RYSA at age six and teaching at age fifteen, said.

Shirah expressed his optimism that RYSA will be able to reestablish itself in the community.

He declared, “We are totally committed to doing everything we can for the community and the youth.” Our goal is to support young people in all of our soccer-related programs, not to earn a profit. We are committed to the work we began at the outset.

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