North Carolina FC returns to USL Championship in ’24; CBC invests in NC Courage

Big changes in Raleigh for pro soccer: Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC) has an increased minority equity stake in North Carolina Courage (NWSL), while North Carolina FC is exercising an option to return to USL Championship from USL League One for the 2024 season.

North Carolina FC previously competed in USL Championship between 2018 and 2020 before moving to USL League One in 2021.

“We are incredibly excited to compete in the USL Championship once again,” said Steve Malik, majority owner of North Carolina Football Club, via press release. “This league has world-class talent across the country, and we are thrilled to be able to bring even higher-level soccer to the Triangle. We have extremely passionate and savvy sports fans in our area that demand competitive excellence from their teams. We hope that by returning to a league that is well established and highly respected, both nationally and abroad, our community will be excited to support our team and embrace this new challenge with us.”

With the addition of North Carolina FC and expansion side Rhode Island FC, USL Championship is expected to have 26 teams in 2024, with Charleston Battery, Loudoun United FC, Louisville City FC and Memphis 901 FC being the closest, geographically, to the Triangle.

“North Carolina FC has all the essential elements of a successful USL Championship club: a soccer-specific stadium, a deeply committed ownership group, and a vibrant community that loves the sport,” said USL Championship President Jeremy Alumbaugh via press release. “We congratulate Steve Malik, and everyone involved with North Carolina FC on this upcoming move, and we look forward to seeing them compete at our highest level.”

“For us, this is the perfect time to move up to the USL Championship,” said North Carolina FC President Francie Gottsegen via press release. “We’ve made sweeping upgrades to our front office infrastructure while growing out of the pandemic and we feel confident we’re in a place to compete at this level, both on the field and organizationally. We owe it to our fans and community to deliver the best possible product while ensuring the stability and viability of the club for the future.”

North Carolina FC currently sits at the top of USL League One two-thirds through the 2023 season and will look to finish its stint in League One on a high note to build momentum into next year’s return to the Championship.

In another move involving NC FC / NC Courage, Capitol Broadcasting Company announced the addition of an increased minority equity stake in the two-time National Women’s Soccer League Champion North Carolina Courage, joining other sports properties including the Durham Bulls, Holly Springs Salamanders, the Coastal Plain League, and Wolfpack Sports Properties.

“We’re incredibly excited to be increasing our ownership in the NC Courage adding to the growing list of championship sports organizations in the CBC family, especially an organization that has continued to rapidly grow as a pillar of the Triangle community,” said Jimmy Goodmon, President/COO of Capitol Broadcasting Company via press release. “CBC believes in the long-term growth of women’s sports and the impact it has on our local community.”

“’The Beautiful Game’ has only continued to grow not just in the Triangle but the entire country,” said Mike Birling, Vice President of Capitol Sports, via press release. “From youth soccer, through the college ranks and into the professional levels, the state of North Carolina has not only enjoyed a rich history but seen a tremendous growth of support.”

Since relocating to Raleigh, the NC Courage have won three consecutive NWSL Shields, the inaugural Women’s ICC Championship, and the 2018 and 2019 NWSL Championships. Six members of the current NC Courage squad are also representing their respective countries at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, including two for the United States.

Photo courtesy North Carolina FC.

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