“At a time when we’re celebrating Canada at the World Cup, we’ve lost one of our historic clubs. And this is a country that does not have a lot of historic clubs.”
— Alan Koch, now former FC Edmonton head coach
On Monday morning, FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch received a phone call from team president Jeff Harrop. He and the players were to be assembled for a Zoom call later in the day.
During that meeting, the news Koch had feared was passed onto him and the players: FC Edmonton would not be going forward. The team will not play in the 2023 Canadian Premier League (CPL) season, ending an agonizing drama that has played out over the last year.
“Nobody had any questions,” said Koch. “Nobody spoke.”
Basically, it was the news that everyone on the call had been expecting to hear.
A few minutes after the Zoom chat, the news went out from the league, via a release. The CPL had “terminated” the rights of FC Edmonton owners Tom and Dave Fath to own a team in the league. It said the league hopes to bring in a new team with new owners down the road, but no timeline was given. The CPL made it clear that it won’t entertain bringing Edmonton back into the fold unless a new home can be found. Clarke Stadium, which FC Edmonton first called home in 2012 when the team was part of the North American Soccer League (NASL), just won’t cut it.
“This decision, while painful in the short term, will allow us to reset the market for a CPL return to Edmonton in the future,” CPL commissioner Mark Noonan said in the release. “The key to this return is having a proper facility to showcase our matches and provide a first-rate fan experience. Unfortunately, Clarke Stadium in its current state is outdated and not suitable for this purpose. We look forward to working with the City of Edmonton leadership on a strategy to return CPL to the market in an appropriate facility. With the right venue, we fully believe Edmonton can, and should be, one of the best markets in the CPL.”