The Ottawa Fury are bailing on the Canadian Premier League. The longest standing Canadian D2 team said today that although they wished the CanPL well, they wanted to remain in the USL for the foreseeable future.
In essence, they wanted to let others do the heavy lifting of growing the league while they play it ultra conservative and absurdly safe.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this isn’t going to be a balanced article.
This was a short-sighted and selfish decision that in no way helps Canadian soccer or, in my opinion, the Ottawa Fury. Instead of getting into an exciting new project at the ground floor and playing in a league against markets that resonate with their fan base (and potentially having the possibility of qualifying into the CCL preliminary league) the Fury are going to stick with exciting and intense rivalry match-ups with the likes of Penn FC and New York Red Bulls II.
Oh, and remain the Montreal Impact’s farm team, likely. Ottawa, after all, likes to be subservient to other Canadian cities. But, hey! The RedBlacks are good. OSEG has got that going for them, right?!
The true shame here is at the player level. Ottawa has done a great job bringing in Canadian talent this year. The thinking was that they were setting themselves up for entry into the league*. Now, those players will either leave Ottawa or play in a league that will be at a lower standard than what the CanPL intends to be at.
Let me repeat that. CanPL will be at a higher standard than USL. Quickly, if not immediately.
*There is some rumblings that the biggest roadblock Ottawa had with CanPL is a gulf in opinion over how many contracts could be grandfathered into the league. We’ll discuss this more on this week’s Two Solitudes.
The biggest question from here is what the CSA is going to do. In the past, the CSA has suggested that they would not sanction teams below the MLS level if there is a Canadian equivalent. However, that was when Victor Montagliani was running the show and since he’s left the power seems to have shifted back to the board from the president’s office. And the board isn’t as hardcore about things as Victor was.
Also at question is whether Ottawa will be invited into the Voyageurs Cup next year. Denying enter into the competition could prove to be a middle ground punishment to encourage teams to leave America leagues. It would also be a good way to justify excluding the PDL teams, if the CSA still wishes to exclude them.
The full nuclear option the CSA has is to completely deny sanctioning. That would effectively kill the team. Chances are they’d like to avoid that, but do not ignore the possibility.
It’s going to be interesting…
Edited by Duane Rollins