Ottawa Fury FC announced Friday morning that it is suspending operations for 2020, citing sanctioning issues that club ownership said prevented participation in USL Championship play.
The club’s standing in USL Championship was in doubt prior to into the 2019 season, as CONCACAF–the governing body for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean–initially did not sanction a return to the Division II league, reportedly on the grounds that Canada offered a comparable circuit with the launch of the Canadian Premier League. Ultimately, the sanctioning later went through, allowing Ottawa to complete in USL Championship in 2019 as its lone club outside the United States.
Sanctioning issues apparently arose once again, however, prompting Ottawa Fury FC to suspend operations for the 2020 season. In order to return to USL Championship, the club needed approval from Canada Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, and CONCACAF. Though Canada Soccer signed off on a one-year sanctioning to cover 2020, it has not been granted by U.S. Soccer or CONCACAF. Officials from Fury ownership group Ottawa Sports and Entertainment (OSEG) cited this as the reason for suspending operations, noting time constraints in planning next season. More from CBC News:
In a statement, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Mark Goudie said he believes the U.S. Soccer Federation and CONCACAF intentionally ran them out of time.
“I think it’s apparent that soccer’s hierarchy is trying to force Fury FC out of the USL,” the statement said…
John Pugh, an OSEG partner that oversees the Fury, wrote in a letter to fans posted on the team’s website that the reason for suspending operations was simple.
“[It’s] politics,” Pugh wrote. “Despite our best efforts over a period of many months, we were unable to obtain full sanctioning and since schedules must be developed, players signed and tickets sold, we simply ran out of time.”
The Fury completed in the NASL from 2014-2016, before shifting to USL in 2017. In 2019, the club drew a per-game average of 4,555 fans, good for 14th in the 36-team league, according to our attendance numbers. In a statement on Friday, USL President Jake Edwards lamented the news, crediting the quality of Ottawa’s operation and its role in the league’s growth.
“We are deeply disappointed,” said Edwards. “Ottawa Fury FC is an extremely professional, well-run organization and it’s frustrating to see them treated in this way. We are extremely grateful for the contributions of the entire Ottawa Fury FC organization, including John Pugh, Mark Goudie, the club’s wider ownership group, and each and every supporter of the team these past few seasons. They have been a critical part of USL’s growth.”
Image courtesy Ottawa Fury FC.
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