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Sunday, February 21, 2010

FC Edmonton could change the future of Canadian club football

----------Edmonton Drillers circa 1981 - Canada's Blackpool FC

A few weeks back, a quiet little press release came out of Edmonton, Alberta which could blow over Canadian football (balls kicked by feet not eggs thrown by hand) like a warm Alberta chinook... or cast a chill like an Arctic wind. With extraordinarily low fanfare, it was announced that a new football club named FC Edmonton had been founded and had been granted admission to the all new and improved NASL 2.0 with the team entering in 2011. The immediate first reaction was a sigh of relief and a sage head nod that the club had chosen a proper football name and identity but on further thought, there is the realization that FCE could mean much more.

The very few things that FCE have announced so far have been positive. The name is a smart move and follows in the footsteps of Toronto FC's image building; choosing to play at the small but intimate Foote Field as opposed to the horrid Commonwealth Behemoth will offer fans a better game experience; the immediate hiring of Dutch Canadian Dwight Lodewegas gives the club a manager who has held the helm at PSV Eindhoven and NEC Nijmegen, as well as being a local throwback to the old Edmonton Drillers. After the debacle which was 2004's USL entry, Edmonton Aviators (who existed for all of one season), the early signs seem to show a club with a much better understanding of football culture.

It may seem like a big ask for a club that barely has a website yet but if FC Edmonton can manage to harness a decent level of success on and off the pitch it could have great ramifications for the country's football environment. If FCE can show that running a club in a mid-size Canadian market (as opposed to USL/ NASL in big city Vancouver and Montreal) then there will be interest from other areas of the country as well. With the NASL still looking to expand to the 16 team range, a successful FCE could spawn new NASL interest from the likes of Calgary, Ottawa, Hamilton and Winnipeg.

Only time will tell if FCE can succeed. In fact, until they actually play their first match Edmontonian football fans will likely keep their excitement to a low boil. However, if the club continues to follow along their current path and with their automatic inclusion into the Canadian Championship in 2011, they might be successful. First year visits from MLS sides Toronto FC and Vancouver won't hurt the attendance figures and that may be just enough to entice a few wealthy business people to give the NASL a shot in their Canadian town. If it fails, then those same potential owners could get gun-shy and think their investment would be less Toronto FC and more Edmonton Brickmen.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like they have a better website up now and have already added some extra components to it.