The NPSL recently confirmed that City of Angels FC will begin play in 2017. The franchise joins the league with some notoriety, as it is backed by heavy hitters some big plans for the future. One of the key people in establishing the team is Joe Sumner, a musician and entrepreneur known for being one of the founders of the video app Vyclone. (He is also the son of Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting.) Sumner is joined in the founding of the franchise by PJ Harrison, a creative director.
The two had been planning this venture for some time, and even mulled the possibility of joining a higher league. However, they ultimately determined that the NPSL could yield strong results, citing a business model that allows for a lower overhead, the potential for strong attendance, and the possibility to invest in other areas of the organization. More from The Guardian:
Following a two-year process, a payment of around $20,000 for the licence, plus league fees, countless meetings with potential investors, sponsors, stadium owners and coaches, they are the proud and bold owners of the newest team in the fourth division of the US football pyramid.
“Music is a tricky world right now so we were always talking about the next big idea when we were in the pub watching Newcastle or Everton,” Sumner says. “PJ started talking to people in the US football scene and we started investigating the possibility of starting our own club. We have been through every permutation you can think of and finally found our feet at the bottom of the ladder. We looked at USL, NASL but decided NPSL is exactly what we need. We want to start a club from the ground up, make sure it’s real and that the fans and players are equally important. MLS is very well run and professional but the rest of the US is like the Wild West as far as football is concerned.”
The costs of running a club in NPSL are minimal compared with MLS – six figures over the long term, and City of Angels’ travel expenses will be contained by competing in the Southwest Conference – but the potential returns are disproportionately high. Harrison explains: “NPSL has teams that attract crowds from 250 to 7,500, in some cases higher. There is a huge variance but there’s nothing to prevent you building a large club in any of the divisions.
City of Angels FC is joining the Los Angeles soccer scene at a point where it is very strong. The LA Galaxy continue to be a success in the MLS, and the expectations are that Los Angeles FC will follow suit when it joins the league in 2018.
While those teams could be at the forefront of the area’s soccer culture, City of Angels FC is looking to differentiate itself. The Guardian reports that Sumner and Harrison are eyeing the San Fernando Valley region as the team’s permanent home, which they believe will give them enough fans and resources to compete.