Owner shuts down IFL’s River City

2009-10-17T00:15:00Z Owner shuts down IFL’s River City The Billings Gazette
October 17, 2009 12:15 am

Just less than eight weeks removed from an appearance in the Indoor Football League's inaugural title game, River City Rage co-owner Jeff Sprowls told The Billings Gazette on Thursday that the 2009 IFL runner-ups will not return to the field for 2010.

Sprowls, who also owns the Omaha Beef with his father Robert Sprowls, stated that all of his efforts will now center on the Central Division Beef, who finished 11-4 and lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

"We have no choice but to shut River City down," Sprowls said. "I would love to keep both of the teams but we just have no choice, no other options."

Sprowls added that some recent issues in Omaha played a factor in the decision to shut down the Rage.

"We had a lot of stuff happen there (Omaha), a lot of money was stolen and we need to just focus on running one franchise," he said.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Sprowls has filed a police report against former team president and general manager Russ Francis, alleging Francis made 66 transactions totaling more than $29,000 from Sprowls' company, Gridiron Management.

Francis, who was fired in late August, less than four months after being named president, played 14 seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. He caught five passes for 60 yards in a Super Bowl XIX win with San Francisco.

In an Omaha police report dated Oct. 1, Sprowls alleges the theft began sometime shortly after the three-time pro-bowler became president and around the time when Francis fired an employee of Gridiron Management.

According to the report, Sprowls alleged Francis took an unactivated debit card from the employee's desk, and used it without authorization.

Francis, who has not been charged, told the World-Herald in a written reply that he used the card only for team business as part of his role running the day-to-day operations of the franchise, including office supplies and equipment, team travel, hotel rooms for visiting teams and payments of some players' wages and uncovered medical expenses.

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