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It remains to be seen how Edmonton to take to this new franchise and how deep the owners' pockets are. Academies are great if you can afford to set one up.

Hope things work out well this time for Edmonton soccer fans. Good luck Drillers!

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From the NASL Twitter, the head coach of what they call "FC Edmonton" will be Dwight Lodeweges, an Alberta-born Dutch-capped former footballer who has actually managed in the Eredivisie. An unusually high-profile hire, given the traditional Edmonton history of just hiring Ross Ongaro for six bucks an hour.

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So, Kowalchuk is involved as GM.

Is this an appropriate role for Mel? I've heard people comment that he is not someone they would want to see involved but is GM a better role rather than having an ownership position? I don't know the guy so I don't have an opinion at all but curious to hear what others have to say, especially people who supported the groups he was previously involved with.

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So, Kowalchuk is involved as GM.

Is this an appropriate role for Mel? I've heard people comment that he is not someone they would want to see involved but is GM a better role rather than having an ownership position? I don't know the guy so I don't have an opinion at all but curious to hear what others have to say, especially people who supported the groups he was previously involved with.

The website said that Kowalchuk is GM of Fath Sports which owns the team, not GM of the team itself. I don't know if this is a significant distinction or if I am just reading into things too much.

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From the NASL Twitter, the head coach of what they call "FC Edmonton" will be Dwight Lodeweges, an Alberta-born Dutch-capped former footballer who has actually managed in the Eredivisie. An unusually high-profile hire, given the traditional Edmonton history of just hiring Ross Ongaro for six bucks an hour.

I got a chuckle out of that one. Good news though!!

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I just came back from the FC Edmonton News Conference...

I grabbed all the press information, but the gist of it has already been posted on the on the NASL site. The detailed biographies of the coaching staff are on the official FC Edmonton website (http://www.fcedmonton.com/)

Here's my notes:

- The working name is FC Edmonton. The name and colours (Green) (and probably will) change.

- FC Edmonton will be competing in the Voyageurs cup.

- The FC Edmonton ownership group attended the NASL founding meeting and signed up then and there. They were asked, but had no comment as to an expansion fee.

- Tom Fath is the President and part owner along with his brother Dave.

- Joe Petrone is the Technical Director in charge of Player Personnel and Coaching

- Mel Kowalchuk is the General Manager

- They are currently hiring staff for the front office and preparing office space.

- The plan is to play out of Foote Field, with the back up plan is Clarke. The NASL has a minimum seating of 5000 and a no football lines policy.

- No plans to play out of Commonwealth regularly (They did mention they have a verbal agreement for a friendly match to be played there)

- They will be a fulling playing member in 2011, but have plans to put together a team for 2010 and play several exhibition matches.

- The focus will be to find players from western Canada (Specifically Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were mentioned), but there will be a "sprinkling" of Euro and South American players.

- Dwight Lodeweges called in from Holland. He has fond memories of Edmonton. Joe Petrone called him in December and he and Hans visited. He said it was "impossible to set up a new team alone" but that "Hans a.k.a. Henrick" was a "good guy who knows what he's doing".

- Dwight said he feels at home in Edmonton (and his wife is excited to come), and that Canadian players is really the focus. More clubs means more Canadian talent playing at higher levels which is good for the overall growth of the Canadian National Team.

- Dwight and Hans won't try to go against the Canadian culture, but will try to work with it to show the young players what it means to be a professional.

- Even thought 2010 is just a warm-up, they are taking it very seriously with an eye to the overall development for the team in place in 2011.

- With the Academy structure in place, it will be a good chance to develop Alberta players.

- The NASL phoned in as well to welcome Edmonton officially "back" to the NASL.

- They are very excited about the plans that Fath Sports has on building soccer in Alberta. They also commented on their ambitious academy plans.

After the official press conference, I scrummed in with the other local Edmonton media. TV reps from CBC, CTV, CityTV and Global were all there. As I didn't have a camera (or a cameraman) I kinda had to wait a bit but I did have a chance to ask both Mr. Fath and Mr. Kowalchuk on behalf of the Canada soccer supporters, the Voyageurs a few questions.

I identified myself as a Voyageurs representative (and signed the guestbook as such). I mentioned that we'd supplied the Voyageurs Cup that they're planning on competing for and then I asked them specifically about if they had any plans to engage the fans in order to be successful.

Mr. Fath basically told me that they had plans to engage the local soccer community and were planning on meetings with various groups. I mentioned that from the fans perspective a lot of the "success" of the clubs in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal was driven by hard-core soccer supporters rather than the "bring your kid's soccer team out" model. He said that Mel would have more to say about that, but that they were open to suggestions.

Mr. Kowalchuk said basically that they had a lot to do before they were quite there, but they had given it some thought. They were definitely looking at Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal as models to follow in many aspects, but that they were taking a "slow and steady" approach - preferring to grow into it. He said both Montreal and Vancouver worked hard for many years to become an "overnight success".

Other answers to the typical sports news questions:

Mr. Fath:

- Yes other soccer clubs have failed in the past, but perhaps other groups didn't use the right model (i.e. Aviators attempting to use the too big/too expensive Commonwealth Stadium)

- They want to start smaller, reach out to the local club systems and build a strong system for developing (western) Canadian talent.

- Didn't have any comment on and expansion fee or the clubs operating budget, but mentioned that they had presented their financial model to the NASL and it was agreed to by all members - many with a lot of experience in such things.

- Yes, in the future they hope to put together plans for a SSS, but feel they can grow first.

- No direct competition with the NHL hockey season, and that there were limited number of CFL games but they wouldn't be in direct competition for facilities.

- They believe they can have between 3500 to 5000 fans for games within the first few years.

- The NASL doesn't have (nor needs) a salary cap.

Dr. Kowalchuk:

- The NASL Drillers were ahead of their time. People had no idea back then who the quality players were (not exactly household names).

- Strong committed owners who are more like partners than owners.

Keep in mind, that's only what I was present for... obviously Mel had a lot more to say before I switched over.

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I assume this is a different ownership group from the current indoor Edmonton Drillers?

Well, I think Mel Kowalchuk is the glue between them at least. When I asked at the front desk for the location of the press conference, the lady asked me if this was for the "CMISL soccer league"...

noooo! Noooooooooo!

I know, I know, but I just report the news...

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They've learned, as far as I can tell, one out of the three biggest lessons of the Edmonton Aviators (that being "don't play at Commonwealth you idiots").

The other two are "actually have some money" and "for God's sake don't try to skimp out by bringing in 'local players' because you're going to lose every single game; the second division isn't bad enough for you to get away with playing prairie boys." The jury is still out on one of them.

I swear, if they sign Rick Titus, I'm out.

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Wow this is very exciting news!!! Being originally from Edmonton I have fond memories of the Drillers once receiving one of those balls they kicked into the stands before games...(still have it altough 30 years of use have taken its toll).

I will most definately be up for games....V's cup will be a hoot!!

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Just one point about the "Prairie Boys."

That's something this club is going to have to take steps to fix. They won't be able to do it instantly and, as you said, cheap out. They're going to have to develop a Prairie based academy. The only way to change attitudes of the people on the Prairies towards the game of Association Football is by making it personal. There is little doubt in my mind that in an alternate universe with Owen Hargreaves being Canadian, the Prairies would be strong supporters of the game, or at least Alberta would be.

Remember, some of the best athletes our country has produced have come from the Prairies.

But I agree. If they want to survive and do a good job of building a strong base market, they'd be best off getting players from outside the Prairies for their first team. Building an academy system should be a huge priority though.

Edited by TFCRegina
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Thanks for heading out to the press conference, Strobe. That was a great summary. I would have liked to come out as well, but I am working in Calgary.

I know this is very early, but myself and Sergio (River_City) were throwing around preliminary ideas when there were rumours that we were getting a team (and by preliminary, I mean a message saying "Hey, we should start a supporters group").Even though this is extremly early, we should try to get something together. Again, I have no idea of numbers, and it will likely start out as a few of us standing together and growing organically, but I think it would be amazing if, come opening night, we had some semblance of organized support.

I know Sergio is travelling somewhere in the Middle East right now, and I am sure he has some great ideas to get this off the ground, but I wanted to hear some others opinions.

Let me know what you guys think.

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