JACKSONVILLE, Fla- While denying internet reports that the team is shutting down, it is becoming increasingly clear that if the Jacksonville Armada do play in 2017, the organization will be much leaner.
Rumors of layoffs were confirmed Thursday by the team's former director of broadcasting, Cole Pepper, who tweeted that he was laid off and his position eliminated.
My last full-time day at the Armada...thanks to everyone who gave so much of themselves. It's been great! Hope to call the games in 2017! pic.twitter.com/G2MoLTJEF2— Cole Pepper (@ColePepper) December 15, 2016
Pepper said in his tweet that he hoped to continue calling the team's games in 2017 and to "stay tuned".
"We are still a functioning business and continue to work with (owner) Mark Frisch to develop a strategy that keeps professional soccer alive in Jacksonville." Armada Senior VP of Marketing Jo Shepherd told First Coast News on Thursday.
The news comes just one day after the team released five players including popular goaltender Miguel Gallardo.
Shepherd denied internet reports that the team had canceled all player contracts.
The Armada is one of several team rumored to be in jeopardy in the financially troubled North American Soccer League. Three of the league's 12 teams already announced plans to play in other leagues while three other teams (Ft. Lauderdale, Rayo OKC, and New York) are reportedly close to folding.
An announcement about the league's future is expected in the next few days as the United States Soccer Federation has been negotiating with the NASL, United Soccer League, and others about the future of minor league soccer in the U.S.
There are some reports that the Armada would like to play in the USL in 2017 but no announcement has been made and it is not clear whether the league wants to add Jacksonville after adding their Florida rival, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the Ottawa Fury.