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Hockey legend Bobby Hull probably hoped a new version of the World Hockey Association would turn out better than the last one, which folded in 1979 after six seasons. But it's not looking good right now.

Vancouver-based World Hockey Association Corp., which operates a six-team league and features Mr. Hull as commissioner, is mired in allegations of financial mismanagement, rising debts and a dispute with one British Columbia community over late payments for ice time. Meanwhile the company's shares, which trade over the counter, have sunk from $2 last June to less than a penny today.

Mr. Hull, 68, was not available for comment yesterday, but he is listed as a director of WHA Corp. in addition to serving as commissioner. Company president Ricky Smith denied the allegations.

In a press release, Mr. Smith said the WHA may be a victim of "illicit trading activity coming from offshore."

"We are pleased with our accomplishments this year and will not idly stand by while our company and its stock are under attack," Mr. Smith added. "We intend to respond to aggression with action."

WHA Corp. went public in 2005 after Mr. Smith, a businessman from Ontario, purchased the old WHA trademark. The previous 12-team league got its start in 1972 and Mr. Hull was one of the first players to jump from the National Hockey League, signing for a $1-million (U.S.) bonus, unheard of at the time.

In its current form, the WHA bills itself as an "alternative junior hockey league for skilled 16- to 20-year-old players." It operates five teams in British Columbia -- New Westminster Whalers, Lumby Fighting Saints, Squamish Cougars, Osoyoos Spurs, Armstrong Sharks -- and one in Washington state -- the Bellingham Bulls.

Mr. Hull, who has been named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, is featured on the company's website and there's a "Bobby Hull corner." WHA Corp. has managed to attract some other former hockey stars as well, including Brad Park, Gary Unger and Terry O'Reilly, who have helped out in various capacities.

The league started play last September and although the schedule on its website called for regular season games to continue into March, the company announced this week that two teams, the Whalers and the Fighting Saints, will compete in the WHA finals.

Problems have been simmering for a while. Last week, the company was hit by a lawsuit from a Vancouver business, Global Developments Inc., which alleged that WHA Corp. violated a shareholders' agreement and has failed to repay a $277,000 (Canadian) loan. The suit names Mr. Smith, Mr. Hull and another director, Peter Young.

Global, which claims it is entitled to 40 per cent ownership of WHA, also alleges in the suit that company assets "were improperly co-mingled with the personal assets of WHA's president Smith."

No one at WHA Corp. or Global was available for comment yesterday. In a press release this week, Mr. Smith rejected Global's allegations.

"WHA is not now, nor has ever been party to any agreement or contract with Global, and furthermore intends to vigorously defend itself against any and all claims made by [Global]against the company," the release said. "WHA said it therefore appears [Global]has no serious intention of pursuing the lawsuit and that the lawsuit is merely a manoeuvre with some unknown and possibly malicious intent."

The lawsuit isn't the only issue confronting WHA Corp. This week the town of Osoyoos terminated the Spurs' arena deal after the club failed to pay more than $11,000 for ice time.

"We were very happy to have the team but the bottom line is you have to pay your bills," Osoyoos Mayor John Slater said yesterday. "It's not fair to the taxpayers."

Frank Kaso, an official in Lumby, said the local WHA club is also behind in payments to rent the town's 400-seat arena. "They are a little bit behind, but sometimes you have to have a little faith in people, I guess," he said, declining to specify the amount owed. "I hope that they are doing the right thing and if not I guess then maybe we have to look at other recourses."

The Mayor of Armstrong, Jerry Oglow, said he has heard about financial issues with other teams, but the Sharks have paid up. Officials in Bellingham also did not express any concerns about the Bulls' finances.

Mr. Smith appears to be keeping a positive attitude amid the challenges. In a press release, he said the league plans to expand to 16 teams next season.

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