FC Edmonton closes shop, leaves embattled North American Soccer League - InfoNews

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FC Edmonton closes shop, leaves embattled North American Soccer League

November 24, 2017 - 12:26 PM

EDMONTON - FC Edmonton is leaving the North American Soccer League and "discontinuing professional franchise operations effective immediately."

The Edmonton departure is the latest blow for the embattled NASL, which is currently suing the U.S. Soccer Federation over losing its Division 2 status. The newly crowned NASL champion San Francisco Deltas — home to Canadians Nana Attakora, Kyle Bekker, Karl W. Ouimette and Maxim Tissot — also announced Friday they are closing shop just days after winning the title in their inaugural season.

Friday's news does not necessarily mean pro soccer is dead in Edmonton, however. The Canadian Premier League, currently under construction, is interested in the Alberta capital.

FC Edmonton, founded in 2010 by brothers Tom and Dave Fath, was the only Canadian entry left in the eight-team NASL. Ottawa Fury FC quit the NASL after the 2016 season to join the rival United Soccer League.

Edmonton (7-19-6) finished seventh in the combined spring and fall standings this season.

"Although we believed in and have supported the NASL business model, our franchise has proven to be unsustainable in the Edmonton market. Our decision today is further reinforced by the continuous uncertainty being forced upon the NASL by the United States Soccer Federation," Edmonton co-owner Tom Fath said in a statement.

"We sincerely hope the road to long-term stability can be found for the NASL as the NASL pursues the lawsuit against the USSF in the US courts."

In September, the U.S. Soccer Federation denied the NASL Division 2 status for 2018. The NASL subsequently sued the U.S. governing body.

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court denied the NASL request for a mandatory injunction against U.S. Soccer to regain its Division 2 status. The NASL then turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

"We remain confident in the merits of our case and that our request for a preliminary injunction is supported by the law," NASL interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal said in a statement at the time.

"For that reason, we're hopeful that the Second Circuit will deliver a ruling that allows the NASL to play at the Division 2 level in 2018 and enables us to continue growing and developing the sport.

The league said it is planning changes to its business model and is "encouraged" by the number of expansion candidates.

"We are very appreciative of FC Edmonton's contribution to the NASL as a founding member," Sehgal said in a statement Friday. "As the club's owner, Tom Fath was a tremendous ambassador for the league and his genuine passion for the community did so much for the fans and the people of Edmonton.

"In San Francisco, it's unfortunate that the Deltas' business plans did not materialize in the way they had hoped."

FC Edmonton played its first official league match on April 9, 2011, defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1. Since then it has played more than 200 league games and made it to the post-season twice.

The Faths said they remain committed to the FC Edmonton Academy.

Edmonton averaged some 3,400 fans at home this season, sixth in the league according to soccerstadiumdigest.com.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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