This isn’t good news for the beleaguered NASL, as the San Francisco Deltas and FC Edmonton owners both announced today they were ceasing team operations immediately.
That the Deltas would fold is not a surprise; the move has been rumored for weeks. The team launched with a ton of optimism and a promise to combine tech marketing with sports, as our Jon Bruning detailed in April 2016. Today Brian Andrés Helmick laid out the decision in a Medium post (of course):
In this moment, I look back over the past almost three years and I’m overcome with such a variety of emotions. There are many moments that surface above the rest, like the Sunday you joined us on a march to announce our team name and the Thursday when you skipped out on work to help us secure our home stadium. There are the many Saturdays when you left your worries behind to join us at Kezar Stadium. All of these days are highlights, but they’ll never outweigh the days in between when you shared your time, your stories and, most importantly, your hearts with us. It is this thought that sits heaviest on my chest as I write the following words. We are closing down the San Francisco Deltas….
In hindsight we have not been perfect. Far from it. We have learned so much from this adventure and we will begin organizing our thoughts and learnings that led to us to make this decision. Our hope is to share them for the benefit of others who are interested in developing the sport here in San Francisco or in other cities [sign up here to get email alerts as that content becomes available]. I firmly believe that via transparency and collaboration we can improve the sport we all love.
FC Edmonton owners Tom and Dave Fath announced today that the team is leaving NASL and discontinuing professional franchise operations effective immediately. They will continue to run the team academy, and the pair left the door open to going a potential pro Canadian league. Their statement:
“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,” FC Edmonton co-owner Tom Fath said. “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.”…
“Regardless of our decision today, we must express our sincere thanks to the players, coaches, loyal fans, sponsors and our very hard-working administration team for their commitment and dedication to professional soccer in Edmonton. We also want to re-assure local youth soccer that we remain committed to our FC Edmonton Academy.”
FC Edmonton joined NASL for the 2011 season.
Here’s a statement from NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal regarding the news:
As we anticipate what we hope will be a favorable outcome in the U.S. Court of Appeals, we have been working diligently to build a strong foundation for the 2018 season. We are looking at making a number of changes to our business structure, and we are encouraged by the amount of expansion candidates that are ready to join the NASL.
During this time of change, two of our clubs, FC Edmonton and the San Francisco Deltas, will be departing the league.
We are very appreciative of FC Edmonton’s contribution to the NASL as a founding member. 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. We remain a big believer in the market, as evidenced by the atmosphere and crowd at The Championship Final earlier this month, and we still believe that the city deserves a professional soccer team. We are in active discussions with potential ownership groups and we aim to keep professional soccer in San Francisco in the future.
We appreciate the support of the soccer community as we continue our plans for the 2018 season, and we remain confident ahead of our appeal hearing on December 15.
NASL is in court, suing USSF for antitrust violations after the league was denied Division II status for 2018. The NASL’s status for 2018 and beyond has come into doubt, as the U.S. Soccer Federation announced in September that it had denied the league’s application for Division II sanctioning for next season. As part of the legal fallout from that decision, the NASL sought to obtain a preliminary injunction to restore its status, but U.S. District Court Judge Margo Brodie denied the request. With North Carolina FC already departing for the USL, the departure of FC Edmonton and San Francisco leaves NASL with just five active teams, with at least two more teams expected for 2018.
Image courtesy SF Deltas.
RELATED STORIES: San Francisco Deltas Uncertain for 2018; SF Deltas CEO Issues Challenge to Fans on Attendance; NASL to Appeal Legal Defeat on 2018 Division II Status; NASL Lawsuit Fails to Retain Division II Status for 2018; NASL Preliminary Injunction Hearing Set for Tuesday; NASL Lawsuit Alleges That SUM Tried to Shut Down Cosmos; Commisso Blasts US Soccer’s Gulati, Calls for Resignation; NASL Calls for Preliminary Injunction to Survive; NASL Lawsuit Challenges US Soccer Over Loss of Division II Status; USSF Will Not Extend NASL’s Division II Status into 2018