There won't be any Canadian Premier League team in Edmonton next season after the CPL board of governors voted unanimously to terminate the city's franchise, FC Edmonton.
The team will no longer operate in the market for the 2023 season, CPL announced in a news release Monday.
CPL commissioner Mark Noonan blamed poor performance, low attendance and low revenue as some factors that led to the termination.
"The die-hard supporters and soccer community of Edmonton deserve better," Noonan said in Monday's release.
Noonan also said Clarke Stadium, the home field for the team, is "outdated and unsuitable."
"With the right venue, we fully believe Edmonton can, and should be, one of the best markets in the CPL," Noonan added.
FC Edmonton, founded by Tom and Dave Fath, debuted in 2011. The club played in the North American Soccer League until the end of the 2017 season and joined the CPL for its inaugural 2019 campaign.
FC Edmonton finished dead last in the CPL last season, with a record of four wins, 16 losses and eight draws. The team was operated by the CPL since late 2021 and used players on loan from other clubs.
Alan Koch, FC Edmonton's head coach said Monday's news was bad for the sport.
"FC Edmonton was one of the very few historic professional clubs in the country and with the club folding, that's that's not a good day for Canadian soccer," Koch said.
Koch also said Noonan's comments about the team's performance were insulting.
"We were on a budget that was one-third of every other team in the league this year because we were league controlled. I think that comment is completely irrelevant to recent times, and I think it's offensive to be honest too," Koch told CBC.
Fans not surprised but disappointed
John Ashton has been an FC Edmonton season ticket holder since 2011 — the first year season tickets were introduced — and he says although there were some rainy games, the atmosphere made up for it.
"I'm not necessarily surprised about this, but I'm very disappointed," Ashton said.
Daniel Blodgett, a season ticket holder and a member of the Edmonton Supporters Group, said he was also disappointed by the news and enjoyed cheering on the club over the years.
"Soccer's like that, there's a very deep emotional bond, it's a borderline religion. In hockey you have fans, but in soccer we have supporters," Blodgett said.
Fortunately for fans, this may not be the end of CPL soccer in the city. The CPL said it is still working to bring a team to Edmonton.
"The CPL is actively engaged in discussions with prospective world-class ownership groups about bringing a new CPL franchise to Edmonton when more favourable conditions can be established in the market," Noonan said in the release.
The CPL said all FC Edmonton players that are not free agents will either return to their parent clubs or be eligible for selection by the existing CPL franchises.