Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton Surprise move: FC Edmonton’s general manager resigns

Surprise move: FC Edmonton’s general manager resigns

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Mel Kowalchuk has announced his resignation as the general manager of FC Edmonton.

The team, which leaves Monday for the Arizona portion of its preparations for its first NASL season made the announcement Friday.

FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath said that Kowalchuk let the team know that he has other commitments that need his attention. Kowalchuk remains as the president of the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League.

The vacant GM position won’t immediately be filled; Fath will officially take over the GM role until a search for a replacement is finished. Coach Harry Sinkgraven and technical director Joe Petrone will likely take on more responsibility. Sinkgraven replaced the team’s first coach, Dwight Lodeweges, who used an out clause in his contract to leave the team for a more lucrative offer with Japanese second-division side JEF United. Lodeweges led the team through a 2010 season of friendlies. Players Sander van Gessel and Matt Lam (on a one-year loan) followed Lodeweges to JEF United.

Change has been the constant for a team that has yet to play an NASL game. But owner Tom Fath said the backbone of the club is still strong.

“We’ve got a strong team,” said Fath. “We’ve got a real strong office staff.”

FC Edmonton opens the NASL season April 9 in Florida against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. It’s first “home” game is April 27, at Commonwealth Stadium, in Nutrilite Canadian Championship action against Toronto FC. The NASL home opener at Foote Field, against the Montreal Impact, goes May 1.

So far, Fath admits that season-ticket sales have been slower than expected. Each fan who buys a season ticket gets two seats in the lower bowl for the NCC game vs. Toronto FC.

“Tickets haven’t sold a well as we’d hoped. There are still not that many people in the city that know what we are made of. And the weather outside hasn’t helped. It’s not really soccer weather.”

But the hopes are that, as the hype builds over Toronto FC’s visit, so will ticket sales. The Montreal Impact come to Foote Field May 1 for FC Edmonton’s NASL home opener.

FC Edmonton has signed 15 player to NASL contracts over the last week, most of them Canadian players — including former Middlesbrough youth player Shaun Saiko and ex-Montreal Impact Alex Surprenant. But, despite the team’s signings and preparation for training camp, it has been off the radar of most major media outlets in the city.

Kowalchuk has been involved with many Edmonton sports teams over the years. He was the GM of the Edmonton Trappers baseball team, of the Pacific Coast League 1980 to 2002. He played a role in the Drillers of the original NASL. He ran the Edmonton Brickmen of the short-lived Canadian Soccer League. He worked with the management team of the Edmonton Drillers of the North American Professional Soccer League, that defunct league best remembered for the two- and three-point goals. He spent five months with the Edmonton Cracker-Cats, an independent minor league baseball team that is now owned by Rexall magnate Daryl Katz and has been renamed the Capitals.

“The decision, obviously, was not an easy one,” Kowalchuk said in a statement from the club. “From belief in the organization, where it’s going under the ownership of Tom and Dave Fath and the current staff, success is definitely on the horizon.”

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One Comment

  1. Diana Struve

    March 5, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Edmonton needs to stop screwing their professional soccer team every which way when they have one. Cause I for one am sick and tired it!

    Reply

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