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Will Birmingham play in the International Indoor Soccer League?

February 23, 1978
  Joe E. Fuller
Joe E. Fuller, a local insurance man, announces his intention to bring indoor soccer to Birmingham. The franchise would be a member of the planned International Indoor Soccer League.

Fuller is giving himself one week to come up with the $50,000 guarantee that will secure a franchise for Birmingham. Fuller is seeking the money in two ways. "I'd like to have 10 other businessmen (contribute) or get five businessmen and a civic club to come in with the other half. There's a certain point in time that you have to move from the financial end to the sports end. Where you've got to sell tickets and obtain players. If I can't do it then I will pass the hat to someone else. Maybe a person from out of town will want to come in and make a lot of money and have some fun."

Fuller believes the city and surrounding suburbs have an untapped base of soccer fans to draw on.

The IISL season would run from May to September with 30 home games and 30 away games for each team.

Besides Birmingham, teams are planned in Atlanta, Miami, New England, and Washington DC. Possible franchise locations named are Providence, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and New York. The league hopes to have 14 to 18 teams in place before play begins.

The IISL's president is Florida businessman Paul Johnson who announced the new league at a press conference in New York.

     Super Soccer League logo
William R. Putnam, former owner of the Birmingham Americans who won the World Football League's first and only World Bowl in 1974, is the league's vice president of operations. The IISL will rely on college players, rather than going after established pros, for their talent. "We don't want to get into an NBA-ABA, NHL-WHA kind of situation," Putnam said.

"We have 50 arenas in the U.S. adaptable to this game, and we plan to fill as many of these arenas as possible," Johnson said.

March 1978
At some point during the month, Putnam agrees to merge the IISL with another indoor soccer upstart, the Super Soccer League.

The SSL is a creation of promoter Jerry Saperstein, who's father founded the Harlem Globetrotters.

Putnam will serve as the vice president of operations in the SSL.

The Super Soccer League came as close as possible to playing their inaugural season in 1978, but ultimately failed to generate the necessary funding.

Soccer finally made it to the Magic City, however. In May 2017 the United Soccer League announced they would place a team in Birmingham in 2019, and the Birmingham Legion has remained active in the USL's Championship league.
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Last update: March 20, 2022