Written by Admin on April 16, 2015.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Club announces transition to CSA/OSA governance, expansion of its Pro Soccer Academy and Pending League1 Ontario Bid for Quinte-Belleville
Belleville, Ont. Thursday, April 16th, 2015 – In a series of major announcements, Kingston FC – the region’s only professional soccer club – confirmed that it has officially withdrawn from the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) and will suspend its league play for the 2015 season as it transitions its operations to governance under the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA).
The Club also revealed that it has two pending applications before the OSA, including an application for a new League1 Ontario franchise that, if approved, would bring men’s professional soccer to the Quinte-Belleville region beginning in April 2016.
A second application currently pending before the OSA seeks to secure OSA Recognized Non-Club Academy (ORNCA) status for the Club’s successful Kingston-Belleville FC Pro Soccer Academy, which was launched in September 2014 and which will operate an expanded roster of youth development and training programs throughout the region in 2015.
“Today marks the end of Kingston FC’s “beginning phase”, and the beginning of our “intermediate phase” in terms of our commitment to pro soccer and player development in the Kingston, Belleville and Quinte Region,” said Club Chairman Lorne Abugov. “We pioneered pro soccer in this region three years ago, and we are pleased to have been a catalyst to the growth of the sport and the rise in the level of talent in and around Kingston. And we’re not done yet!”
“Since winning the CSL 2nd division playoff crown back in October 2014, we have faced some hard choices and made some really tough decisions about the best path forward for our club, for our pro teams and for our soccer academy, and none of them has been more difficult than our decision to leave the CSL after three terrific seasons,” Abugov said.
He noted that Kingston FC, which won two CSL season championships and one CSL playoff championship in its three-year tenure as an expansion team, enjoyed the experience and the high level of competition it faced in the private Tier 3 league. “We have absolutely no regrets about our time spent in the CSL, and we wish all of the CSL owners well,” he said. “But for a variety of reasons having to do with Canadian soccer talent development, a well-established pro player progression path and good governance, we are moving full speed ahead on a new path designed to bring our club back into the FIFA/CSA and OSA soccer mainstream for the 2016 season.”
Abugov hopes to receive the key OSA decisions in the very near future, beginning with the pending Academy application: “We understand that an OSA determination on accreditation for our Kingston-Belleville FC Pro Soccer Academy may be forthcoming within the next week or two. Our application is now complete and has been thoroughly reviewed by the OSA Technical and Standards teams. We are very hopeful and confident that we will become the first Academy in the region to meet the rigorous standards for OSA ORNCA Academy accreditation.”
He expressed the hope that, following accreditation, the OSA would move immediately to approve the application that the Club has filed for a new League1 Ontario franchise to bring men’s pro soccer to Belleville and the Quinte region for the 2016 season. If granted that new franchise, the Club would also hope to add a woman’s professional League1 Ontario team for Quinte-Belleville beginning in 2017. Abugov revealed that a new name has already been selected for the Club – the Quinte-Belleville Royals (Q.B.R.) Soccer Club, although each of the men’s and women’s teams will have a separate and unique name to be announced in the near future.
“For several years now, our Kingston FC teams have recognized the potential of the Quinte-Belleville region to support Tier 3 professional soccer,” said Club President Joseph Scanlon. “We have spent a lot of time in Belleville, and we ran a very successful Soccer Day in Belleville event, our Red and White intrasquad game and a CSL division 2 playoff game at Sills Turf Field in Belleville last season. The area has great soccer facilities, terrific local soccer talent, knowledgable fans, businesses and youth soccer clubs – and a big hole where a pro sports team can thrive.”
Scanlon and Abugov both recognize how jarring the loss of Belleville’s junior hockey team – the Bulls – has been to the city and the region, and they both stress that a pro soccer team in the region will only succeed if it boasts local ownership and a large cadre of dedicated business sponsors from across the region. “We have told the OSA and League1 Ontario that a new franchise in Quinte-Belleville should be conditional on our group securing local and regional ownership from the very start. If Belleville and the region want a pro soccer franchise, it will be up to local investors and business sponsors to come forward and work with us,” said Abugov.
Abugov and Scanlon, both of whom reside in Ottawa, own just over 80% of the Prospect Football Club Inc., which owns both Kingston FC Pro Soccer and the Kingston-Belleville FC Pro Soccer Academy. The pair controls the operations of both divisions of the Club, and they are willing to sell majority ownership and control to new investors in the region, even as they are prepared to stay involved with the Club’s operations to transition to full local ownership.
“Joe and I live in Ottawa, and realistically and practically, it will be difficult for us to be as extensively involved in a new Quinte-Belleville franchise as we have been in the operations of Kingston FC,” said Abugov. “We have both invested considerable finances in the Kingston FC operations, even though we are not from Kingston and the region, and we feel that we have done a great deal to boost soccer in this area. But we both feel that if local businessmen and sports enthusiasts in this region are willing to step up to the bar and take ownership and control of this new franchise, then that is by far the best way to go, and we will work with them to make this a success story.”
“We really don’t think that we have to explain to residents of this city and this region how important local and regional ownership is to the ongoing viability of pro sports in and around Belleville. Joe and I want to be involved in building this franchise and becoming the best Club in League1 Ontario, just as we felt that Kingston FC quickly became the best Club in the CSL. We know how to do it, and we want to be involved to help make it happen, but it will only happen with local and regional investors stepping up to the bar,” Abugov said.
The Club is ready to move quickly forward in Quinte and Belleville if League1 Ontario and the OSA grant the group a conditional franchise for 2016. “We hope to get the green light for the new Quinte-Belleville franchise in early May, and we will immediately reach out to the Quinte-Belleville business and youth soccer communities to explain how we will hope to work in cooperation and collaboration with all those who would welcome Pro Soccer coming to Belleville and the region next April,” Scanlon said. “We feel we have credibility in provincial soccer circles and a proven track record. We also feel that a League1 Ontario franchise in Belleville and the region would fill a big gap in the league’s coverage and bolster its Eastern Ontario representation.”
In the meantime, both Scanlon and Abugov offered a big vote of thanks to the Club’s existing sponsors and supporters in Kingston. “We thank the business community in Kingston, and in particular WTC Communications, McCoy Bus Service & Tours and PhysiotherapyKingston for the huge commitment of support they have given to Kingston FC during our first three seasons in the CSL,” they said. “There would be no Kingston FC Pro Soccer had WTC Communications not stepped forward in Kingston and helped us with their platinum sponsorship commitment. We also owe a great deal to McCoy and to Physiotherapy Kingston for investing in our Club and providing very valued transportation and physiotherapy services for our team and our players.”
Kingston FC has amassed a glittering record of success within the CSL, and will look to follow suit in League1 Ontario beginning in 2016. Between 2012 and 2014, Kingston FC achieved the following successes:
•CSL 2014 Playoff Champions (2nd Division)
•CSL 2014 League Champions (2nd Division)
•CSL 2013 League Champions (1st Division)
•Leading Goal Scorer 2013 & 2014 CSL 2nd Division (Mademba Ba)
•Leading Goal Scorer 2013 CSL 1st Division (Guillaume Surot)
•CSL 2014 Coach of the Year 2nd Division (Tom Moran)
•CSL 2013 Coach of the Year 1st Division (Colm Muldoon)
•CSL 2014 Fair Play and Respect Award (Kingston FC)