The end of Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa Fury FC has just announced today that it has suspended operations. The franchise isn't taking a break. The franchise is dead and gone. This situation is only explained in three bland sentences that are a slap in the face for the numerous supporters. The club's website has already been deleted. The way the plug has been pulled is simply heartless.
However, one might have seen that devastating end coming by a mile. Ottawa Fury FC started playing in the North American Soccer League back in 2014, still playing at the cold and modest Keith Harris Stadium at Carleton University before moving to brand new TD Place. The team developed an intense rivalry with the only other Canadian team, FC Edmonton and competed fiercely against legendary New York Cosmos with star players such as Raul. The team even made it to the Soccer Bowl final in 2015. The North American Soccer League was however struggling financially and administratively at that point already.
Ottawa Fury FC had no other option but to switch to the United Soccer League, playing its first season in 2017. The North American Soccer League folded at the end of the same year and many franchises either switched to the United Soccer League or had to suspend operations. After a difficult start, Ottawa Fury FC made it to the playoffs in 2019, losing against Charleston Battery after extra time and penalty kicks in the first round. That has only happened a week and a half ago. However, the team had already struggled to obtain permission by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football to play in the United Soccer League for its last season and the team was heavily pressured to join the new Canadian Premier League that has a much smaller budget, set up quite different rules and features only seven teams. Ottawa Fury FC appealed the decision to not be allowed to play in the United Soccer League and was ultimately allowed to play in 2019.
At that point, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, owner of the Ottawa Fury FC as well as Ontario Hockey Leagues's Ottawa 67's and Canadian Football League's Ottawa Redblacks, should have known that it had eighteen months to switch from the United Soccer League to the Canadian Premier League. The team would have gone through numerous changes but could have played in a new and strong Canadian league starting in late April 2020.
Instead of switching leagues, the team has now folded and the future for professional soccer in Canada's capital is currently looking quite bleak. It's understandable that the administrative challenges have exhausted the owners. It's obvious that a switch to a third league in such a short period of time goes along with lots of complicated paper work. It's clear that numerous players would have been forced to leave and be replaced by younger Canadian players.
The disappointing thing is that the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group didn't even seem to be trying to solve those issues anymore, that it released its devastating statement in three bland sentences and closed the website immediately as if to erase any trace of a team that thousands of fans had supported over the years.
On a positive note, FC Edmonton folded after the final North American Soccer League season back in fall 2017. The team seemed to be dead and gone but rose from its ashes to join the Canadian Premier League and resumed playing in spring 2019. A similar fate might eventually happen to the Ottawa Fury FC or a completely new team in Ottawa.
It's devastating however how many leagues and teams have folded in North America over the past few decades. Soccer is still overall not sustainable in North America despite significant improvements over the past decade in particular. North America will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup. There is a brand new stadium ready to welcome twenty-four thousand fans in the heart of Canada's capital. It would be a shame if professional soccer didn't succeed in the long run in Ottawa. Until then, the fans will be waiting patiently. Canadian soccer fans have already developed elements most hockey or football fans have never known: determination, optimism and resilience. Ottawa Fury FC will not be forgotten.« Today: The end of Ottawa Fury FCSoundtrack to a dystopian world - A review of Aeons' A Tragic End »