EDITORIAL – FC Edmonton fans know that 2019 was a big year for Edmonton. For the first time, the only teams they played against were Canadian with local rivalries with both Cavalry FC (Calgary) and Valour FC (Winnipeg). It was a big if a not bigger deal for Edmonton fans than for other Canadian Premier League cities. This was especially true when the first team folded in 2017.
FC Edmonton Revived
They started as a founder in the North American Soccer League (NASL), which was a second-tier soccer league with aspirations to become a first-tier league like Major League Soccer.
Unfortunately, the league folded in 2017. This caused FC Edmonton to at least go on a 1-year hiatus in 2018. However, Edmonton soccer fans at that time were worried about losing their team altogether.
FC Edmonton’s Road to the Canadian Premier League
FC Edmonton Folds in 2017
An article by Slav Kornik of Global News described the two reasons why the first team folded. One of them, as stated before, was the uncertainty surrounding the NASL.
However, the second reason, which made 2017 a dark day for Edmonton soccer sports fans was this:
“We’re nowhere close to breaking even. We’ve talked about it before. We really need to be around about 9,000 people a game… I think we’ve only had a couple of sellouts since our inception.”
It made Tom Fath, one of the co-owners of the franchise to say this (Steve Sandor’s tweet):
“FC Edmonton will not return in any league unless Edmonton proves soccer can be sustainable.”
With the loss of the Edmonton Rush after the 2015 National Lacrosse League season, they were now only two pro sports teams in Edmonton. These were the traditional CFL Edmonton Eskimos and the NHL team the Edmonton Oilers.
Furthermore, it seemed like Edmonton was the furthest away from having another soccer team let alone a resurrected one. In November 2017, it looked like Edmonton’s soccer team was all but gone. However, a campaign that resurrected the FC Edmonton it all started with the #yeg4cpl hashtag.
The #yeg4cpl hashtag was started by @yeg4CPL founder Nathan Terlesky. He revealed how the group came together on the Shane Clausing show:
In the January meeting we talked about having a march to CPL kind of event, we realized that the Canadian Premier League was the only way forward for a professional soccer team in Edmonton.
This revealed two things that needed to happen for FC Edmonton to get their team back. This was said on the Shane Clausing show.
According to Nathan Terlesky, there were two things the Faths wanted from FC Edmonton. One was the city support, and the other was fan support.
To gauge fan support, the Fath Brothers asked FC Edmonton fans to deposit 1000 $40 season within forty days.
According to Matthew Gourlie of juneof86, one hundred season seats were sold with a $40 deposit in the first ninety minutes. The season-ticket drive was a success and FC Edmonton got their team back.
The other variable that needed to be met was the city. The city was very supportive of FC Edmonton coming into the Canadian Premier League. As Nathan Terlesky said on the Santa Clausing Show:
“Issues with the city are resolved.”
With these two factors met, FC Edmonton was reborn into the Canadian Premier League.
FC Edmonton Reborn
FC Edmonton fans had gotten their dream to come true. The Canadian Premier League YouTube video showed FC Edmonton introduced as one of the founders of the Canadian Premier League.
The reason for keeping the name “FC Edmonton” was best described by a die-hard FC Edmonton fan:
“We want a badge that we can take with us around the world that says this is Edmonton.”
A lot of the Canadian Premier League teams do not have their city written in their team names.
This includes the other western teams in the Canadian Premier League including Pacific FC (Victoria), Cavalry FC (Calgary), and Valour FC (Winnipeg).
Furthermore, although the first team went on hiatus for one year, their academy and youth programs continued operation in 2018. Although they had to sign a lot of players like a lot of expansion teams do, they already had a grassroots foundation from the NASL days.
They finished sixth in the seven-team in the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League.
The Future of FC Edmonton
It was not long ago that FC Edmonton was considered done as a franchise and the attendance this year was not great.
However, FC Edmonton is now very much part of the sports community. As reported by Barry Hanson of the Edmonton Sun, FC Edmonton has partnered with baseball’s Edmonton Prospects, the Canadian Football’s Edmonton Eskimos, and the new pro basketball team called the Edmonton Stingers.
All four Edmonton summer sports teams partnered with each other to help sell tickets for all franchises. As the article explains:
“The Ultimate Sports Fan Pass — one ticket to each of their 2020 season games for a combined total of $79 plus tax with a Dec. 23 expiry date.”
Edmonton sports fans have Kim Manzo to thank. She worked with several soccer entities for 16 years before getting a job with the new Canadian Elite Basketball League with the Edmonton Stingers.
“I was thinking how we shouldn’t be fighting against one another, we should be working with each other to help make Edmonton a better community,” she said.
The future for Edmonton looks bright as they are the only one of seven clubs to have an academy team.
FC Edmonton Academy
Edmonton was also one of only two CPL teams to have players on John Herdman’s Canadian National Team Roster.
FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic was on Canada’s squad in October, where they beat USA 2-0 at BMO Field.
A big reason is that FC Edmonton is the only one of the seven CPL teams to have an academy. Although in the Thomas Nef article, Jeff Paulus states that Cavalry FC is the closest to having an academy team.
2026 FIFA World Cup
Furthermore, Edmonton will be hosts to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. By that time Jeff Paulus hopes to have 16 teams in the CPL, which should be front-page news.
“Hopefully there will be 16 teams by that point. We’ll be healthy, we’ll be front page in the newspapers because of the size of it, and then we host and take the game to a whole other level.
One thing is for sure, FC Edmonton has a great future in the Canadian Premier League. Their team will live on and continue to make an impact on Albertan and Canadian soccer for years to come.