FC Edmonton / Facebook
Edmonton will be without a team in the Canadian Premier League (CPL) next season after the competition voted unanimously to terminate the Alberta city’s franchise.
CPL commissioner Mark Noonan, who took up the post in September, confirmed the board of governors at Canadian soccer’s top flight had stripped Fath Sports Limited’s right to operate FC Edmonton.
The move means the CPL will not operate a team in the market for the 2023 campaign.
Founded in 2010, FC Edmonton initially competed in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 2011 to 2017, before playing in the CPL from 2019 until 2022. Despite investment from the league, the franchise has consistently ranked bottom for on-pitch performance, revenue and attendance at Clarke Stadium. Ultimately, the CPL decided that FC Edmonton would not succeed under its current structure.
“I have made it clear since I became commissioner that we need certain conditions in each of our markets for our clubs to be successful on and off the field,” said Noonan.
“After careful review, these conditions simply didn’t exist at FC Edmonton, consistently resulting in the smallest league average attendance, lowest revenue, and poor performance in the standings, despite incremental league investment.
“The die-hard supporters and soccer community of Edmonton deserve better.”
The CPL stated that it was actively engaged in discussions with ‘world world-class ownership groups’ about bringing a new franchise to Edmonton when ‘more favourable conditions’ can be established in the market.
“This decision, while painful in the short term, will allow us to reset the market for a CPL return to Edmonton in the future,” Noonan continued. “The key to this return is having a proper facility to showcase our matches and provide a first-rate fan experience. Unfortunately, Clarke Stadium in its current state is outdated and not suitable for this purpose.
“We look forward to working with the City of Edmonton leadership on a strategy to return CPL to the market in an appropriate facility. With the right venue, we fully believe Edmonton can, and should be, one of the best markets in the CPL.”
Despite the loss of Edmonton, the addition of Vancouver FC means the CPL will continue as an eight-team league in 2023 and maintain the same number of players as in 2022. All FC Edmonton players that are not free agents will either return to their parent clubs and/or be eligible for selection by the existing CPL franchises.
Noonan was also quick to dismiss concerns about the wider health of the league, insisting FC Edmonton was a “unique, one-off situation” and “not at all reflective of the overall health and viability of the CPL”.
“Building on record post-season crowds, exceptional corporate partnerships, increases in player compensation, and with active expansion discussions in no less than six prospective markets, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of the CPL and soccer in Canada as we head into our fifth season,” he added.
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