Could Ottawa have a professional soccer team in 2020?
Since Ottawa Fury FC suspended operations the nation’s capital has been without a professional soccer team. This looks set to change, as local businessman Jeff Hunt announced recently that he aims to launch a pro soccer team in 2020. This would not only be a boost for Ottawa, but also the Canadian Premier League which currently only has seven teams.
Ottawa Fury FC left in November 2018 after it failed to obtain a sanction from the United Soccer League. It was a result of a dispute with CONCACAF, Canada’s governing body who wanted Fury to play in the Canadian league. Fury’s franchise rights were sold to Miami FC in December 2019. The club had played at the TD Place Stadium which is also home to the Ottawa Redblacks. It is expected that this would be the new team’s stadium.
Jeff Hunt who is part-owner of the Ottawa Redblacks and the Ottawa 67’s obviously has a sweet spot for investing in local sports teams. These franchises are held by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group but Jeff Hunt has confirmed that the new soccer team would be a personal investment.
To get a team up and running for the 2020 season – which starts in April – looks difficult, but not impossible. The first deadline will require Hunt and his team to have all the paperwork completed in time for the schedule announcement which is planned for early February.
The new team will also need to recruit enough players, and a coach, at breakneck speed. There are strict quotas on the number of foreign nationals allowed (seven). It will be a very tight turnaround, and if they manage it, we shouldn’t expect them to compete for their title in their first season. The good news is that Spanish giants Atletico Madrid are rumoured to be involved in the project. The team, hailing from the Spanish capital, have enjoyed successful runs in European cups over the past years. They have finished second in La Liga (the Spanish domestic league) two years in a row – but this season Fanduel have them as third favorites, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.
If the new team are given the green light, then you can expect an intense recruitment phase. It’s usually the betting sites south of the border that have most up to date information on which players are ready to be drafted. Here is a list of the latest American sportsbooks.
Forge FC, from Ontario, were crowned the first champions of the Canadian Premier League last year. They beat Cavalry FC, from Alberta, 2-0 in the final. They were knocked out of the CONCACAF League by Honduran club C.D. Olimpia in the round of 16.