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Ottawa Fury suspend operations for 2020 USL season

The Ottawa Fury will not play in the USL Championship, or any other league, in 2020.

April 27, 2019 – The official USL match ball on display ahead of Forward Madison's inaugural home opener. (Daniel Mick-Pro Soccer USA).

The Ottawa Fury, the Montreal Impact’s USL Championship affiliate, announced Friday morning the team will cease operations for the 2020 season. In addition, the Fury will not join the Canadian Premier League.

The club from the Canadian capital spent six seasons in professional soccer with the NASL and the USL Championship from 2014 to 2019. Fury president John Pugh cited political reasons for Friday’s announcement. 

“Fury’s participation in the USL requires sanctioning from soccer’s governing bodies — Canada Soccer, US Soccer Federation and Concacaf,” Pugh said in a press release. “Despite our best efforts over a period of many months, we were unable to obtain full sanctioning and since schedules must be developed, players signed and tickets sold, we simply ran out of time.” 

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment chief executive officer Mark Goudie apologized to the team’s players, coaches and fans and expressed feelings of anger and betrayal in a prepared statement.

“I believe we were purposely run out of time,” Goudie said.

Goudie added that the Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC advocated on the Fury’s behalf with the Canadian Soccer Association. He believes support from the three MLS clubs was why the Fury obtained sanctioning from the CSA. However, that wasn’t enough for the team to play in the USL Championship. US Soccer and Concacaf did not grant sanctioning.

“The suspension of activities of our partner club over the last three years is a sad day for soccer in Ottawa, the Outaouais region and for Canada,” Vassili Cremanzidis, the Impact’s head of analysis and assistant director of player personnel, said in a statement “A reserve or affiliate team is vital in order to give playing time to our young players. We will therefore look for a solution for the future by analyzing all possible options.”

A potential relocation to the United States for the 2021 USL Championship season is an option for the club, according to CBC Ottawa

No move to Canadian Premier League

The Fury went through similar issue in 2019 when Concacaf pulled its sanctioning for USL Championship play, stating that the team should play in the CPL. The Fury were allowed to compete in the USL Championship after receiving a favorable ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. For Pugh, going to the court for a second straight year wasn’t an option. 

No one can run a business, speaking for the other owners, when you are put through this process annually,” Pugh said. “It makes no sense whatsoever.” 

The Fury did have an interest in Canada’s new professional soccer league. 

“We saw ourselves potentially be in the CPL someday, Goudie said. “But we felt that it should be our our term and we felt and we should have the right to be able to choose what league to play in. And if we move to the CPL, that it would be our decision.” 

The team had a clause in its contract with the USL that “gave us an out to be able to join the CPL” according to Goudie. He added that the CSA was aware of the clause and the term that included giving the USL a year’s notice prior to Ottawa’s departure from the league. 

“That means that for the 2020 [CPL season], we would’ve had to give notice before the CPL even came into existence,” Goudie said. “So the conversations we had with the CPL were that we’d wait and see how things unfolded. And if we felt that it was in the best interests of professional soccer in Ottawa, we would make that leap.”

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