Football Team Leaves Unpaid Bills In Its Wake
The San Diego Fleet football team cut its season short after suspending operations earlier this month. Local business IQ Graphics is still looking to get paid after working with the team.
"Their schedule, we did all their schedule stuff — we did small pocket signage that they give out to people with the roster and the league information, all the stuff that comes with it," said Amir Rezai who runs IQ Graphics with his dad.
Since 1996, IQ Graphics has made posters, banner, flyers and business cards out of its small shop. Rezai was excited when the San Diego Fleet reached out to them for business last October.
"I said, 'Great let’s work together.'"
It started off with some small projects, then came orders for signage around SDCCU Stadium.
"Signage is when everything changed," Rezai said. "Signage was when we did a lot of different directional signs to the rules and regulations of the league, the uniform guidelines for home teams and away teams."
The team paid for its early orders — but as the work began increasing — the payments stopped coming.
"End of February, beginning of March was when I started getting a little worried," Rezai said. "But the work was still coming in and I was still getting text messages and emails saying that it was being taking care of and we’re just waiting for accounts payable to pay it off ... So we didn’t really think anything of it and worse would have come to worst, is that past 30 days, 60 days we just send a letter out and usually it will come back to us pretty quickly — but it didn’t with them at all."
Although worried about the lack of payments, IQ Graphics wanted to keep doing business with the Fleet.
"It was always guaranteed we will pay for sure — but also for a small business you don’t want to ruin a relationship with such a big account by threatening them," Rezai said. "That’s not how I want to do business in general — I wanted to keep working with them."
Then news came of the Fleet’s parent league, the Alliance of American Football, suspending operations.
"And I’m like, 'What happened? What’s going on?'" Rezai said of correspondence with his Fleet contact. "And he’s just, 'I don’t know I’m sorry.' And that’s when I knew that they’re not going to pay."
IQ Graphics was not paid for much of its work.
"We did business (of) about $23,000 and they owe us $22,000 roughly," Rezai said. "It’s massive because we are a small operation, we’re a mom-and-pop shop — we have four employees. My biggest thing is we pay our vendors, we pay our employees for a service that they do for me and I expected that back from them and they just didn’t. It’s really unfortunate because I thought it was going to be great for us — a small business."
Rezai loved working with the Fleet, but feels left behind and is genuinely hurt.
"My dad is very old fashioned and he believes in people and trusts people," he said. "In 23 years I don’t have one person not come and pay us back."
Now IQ Graphics is trying to recoup its losses.
"We have to increase our pricing just try to find a way to fix this issue," Rezai said. "Our salaries are going down for my father and I."
Rezai said he has reached out multiple times to league contacts about getting paid. He has also talked to a lawyer and is weighing his legal options.
The Alliance of American Football said the following about its decision to suspend operations, "This is not the way we wanted it to end, but we are also committed to working on solutions for all outstanding issues to the best of our ability."