Wright refuses Blast offer, placed on suspension


The Baltimore Blast placed forward Paul Wright on the suspended list yesterday after he told the team he could not accept a $20,000 reduction in his contract and consequently would not report to the first day of training camp Tuesday.

Drew Forrester, Blast vice president of soccer operations, said he informed Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman's office, the MSL Players Association and Wright of the decision after a telephone conversation with Wright yesterday afternoon.

Wright, who was picked up on waivers from the San Diego Sockers in June, said from San Diego last night that Baltimore's decision to suspend him displeased him, "but I was prepared for it. I've already filed a grievance against them with the players association.

"All I want them to do is honor the contract they picked up from San Diego."

Wright said he thinks he will win the grievance and be allowed to play for another team this season.

However, MSL director of communications John Griffin said he doesn't see much of a chance of Wright winning the case.

"He can go to the players association, but it's a matter between the club and him," said Griffin.

Under MSL regulations, a player suspended by his club is not counted on the roster and does not receive his pay.

Forrester said that Wright is still the property of the Blast and can't play or be paid by any other team.

Forrester said Baltimore was forced to reduce Wright's salary from $60,000 to $40,000 this season because of the reduction in the team salary cap from $650,000 to $550,000 and because Wright didn't come to Baltimore July 1 when his contract with the team started.

Also, Forrester said that Wright wants to leave Baltimore as soon as the season is over (about May 20), even though his contract runs until June 30.

"The other players on the team who are under a full-year contract have to stay in town and make appearances and do promotional work," said Forrester. "We can't make an exception for Paul Wright."

Wright said he has told the Blast that he couldn't come to town July 1 because he wanted to stay in San Diego to be close to his mother, who is ill.

Asked what the team would do if Wright had a change of heart and reported to training camp Tuesday, Forrester said: "If Paul finds his way to Baltimore in the next 72 hours and agrees to terms, we'd have to look at the possibility of reinstating him. If he comes to town, he would come as a total shock to me."

Wright said the Blast is "trying to play hardball with me. All it's done is cost them a player. I know I'm going to win the grievance and play for someone else. I've told them I would report to camp as long as they honored the contract they picked up from San Diego. It's all pretty simple to me."

Forrester said Wright should understand he can't be paid if he doesn't work.

"I see it as we'd lost a player anyway when Paul told me he wouldn't report to camp," said Forrester.

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