Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Fath: FC Edmonton will not return in any league unless Edmonton proves soccer can be sustainable

Fath: FC Edmonton will not return in any league unless Edmonton proves soccer can be sustainable

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FC Edmonton has “discontinued” operations. No matter what happens with the ongoing NASL court action against the United States Soccer Federation, the Eddies won’t be back.

Thus ends the run of a team that was part of NASL 2.0 since the 2011 season. Tom and Dave Fath were the longest-standing owners in NASL.

Now, let’s get to what the word “discontinued” means. It’s not quite the same as “folding.” The team is still going to operate its academy program.

“We are no longer a team or a franchise in any professional league,” said Tom Fath. He said that the team will “look at its options” going forward.

But what it doesn’t mean is that FC Edmonton is a slam-dunk entry into the Canadian Premier League, either. That league is expected to get off the ground in 2019, but Fath said if he is to reactivate the professional part of the franchise, he needs to know things will be different.

“Of all the years we have been in the league, how many times did we sell out?” he asked. (A couple of times.)

So, is there a future for the Eddies? This is how Fath looks at it.

“As for the Canadian Premier League, I love the idea, I think it’s important for Canada. But what we require is it to be sustainable. We need to be sustainable. Whatever we do, it won’t be USL. And the NASL is not sustainable in Edmonton.”

Fath said travel costs — it can cost $50,000 per road trip — and the poor exchange rate are factors. When FCE kicked off in 2011, the loonie was nearly at par with the American dollar. Now it’s worth less than 80 cents US. That’s a 20 per cent increase in road-trip costs, and a 20 per cent penalty when you offer contracts to players in Canadian dollars.

If the team is to re-start, Fath says he needs to see better corporate support, and sponsorships. The team had a kit deal with Sears Financial through the first couple of years of its existence, but hasn’t had a shirt sponsor since.

And, if the market doesn’t show that it can be better for soccer, “it won’t happen,” Fath said.

So, what looks to be the message is that if fans want FC Edmonton in the Canadian Premier League, the Faths need to see clear evidence that crowds will be better. That there will be more corporate support. That maybe someone will want to put a company’s name on the kits. It’s an Edmonton question before it’s a CanPL question.

“This was an unfortunate decision that we had to come to,” said Fath. “But, it was not a hard decision. When you look at the fact that the club wasn’t sustainable, it was an easy decision to make. An unfortunate decision, but an easy one.”

“We are very appreciative of FC Edmonton’s contribution to the NASL as a founding member,” said NASL commissioner Rishi Sehgal in a release.” 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.”

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One Comment

  1. Matti

    November 24, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    What an incredibly depressing note on which to end the working week. The potential loss of any football club is a terrible loss to its community and wider sporting landscape. I grew up in a part of the world when there seemed to be a perpetual risk of one of the local clubs going out of business, whether be it Hartlepool United, Darlington, Middlesbrough or Carlisle United. I feel very sorry for all the Eddies supporters.

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