Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Over the course of the last few months, Ottawa’s football/soccer scene has been on a rollercoaster of good and bad announcements. Supporters and casual fans were left puzzled and confused on if they’d have any club to support in there city the following year. The confusion all begin when the former and longtime club which served Canada’s Capital region the Ottawa Fury evidently folded last year. With speculation of the prior actually happening after Concacaf which is North America’s governing football body issued a statement directed at the Ottawa Fury club to move from the USL Championship to the newly created Canadian Premier League which went underway last spring. The USL Championship is considered as America’s second tier of football on the United States soccer pyramid. Similar to MLS or some other leagues in the world, the league had Ottawa which was from another neighbouring country. Another example of this is in France’s Ligue 1 which sees Monaco being its own sovereignty but due to it’s size has to play in the French league. Now obviously to any readers reading this article I’m sure you’d know that Canada is much much bigger than Monaco meaning the possibility of Canada eventually getting it’s own league was never a far fetched idea. Since the USL and CPL levels of competition were somewhat similar or just about even it lead Concacaf to make a decision to demand Ottawa move leagues. Despite the launch of the CPL, the Ottawa Fury Officials made a decision to continue to play in the USL due to its stability. With that being added it made the Fury make the required actions to get sanctioned again in a US-Sanctioned or based league. Concacaf went further on to make the decision that Fury’s reasons for wanting to stay in the USL don’t match Concacaf “exceptional circumstance” rule which gave Canadian Teams the permission to play in US sanctioned leagues. (So for example and again similar to MLS where you see Canadian Teams in the league). Ultimately the club announced they wouldn’t be allowed to play in the USL the following season after Concacaf made a statement indicating that they never received any formal request from the club for them to be considered again to play in the USL. With all the uncertainty despite The Fury making multiple statements that the club would continue operations there was still a feeling that nothing was set and stone. By November 2019 it was official and the club announced they’d be suspending operations and sell their franchise rights to Miami FC who are new USL side. Leaving the nation’s capital without a club again which is something sports fans in this city are use to. Rumours then circulated of investors with different backgrounds looking to bring the world’s game back to Landsdowne Park somehow.
The most obvious league for a Ottawa based team as of now and even in general would be the CPL so having the league expand to Ottawa wasn’t ever going to be a shock. The biggest shock came with the owners. The feeling of being shocked wasn’t one that was bad but a genuine feeling of being surprised as it was announced the main owners and investors were Atletico Madrid. Atletico Madrid are one of Spain’s and Europe’s biggest teams with multiple Spanish League Titles, three Europa league titles most recently in 2018 also this decade being Champions League finalists twice and so many other honours. Atletico Madrid are regarded as one of the world’s biggest clubs and now they are basically making a little brother of themselves in Canada as the new Ottawa club was named “Atletico Ottawa”. I don’t think the owners of Fury were any degree at fault of what happened to the club but personally I believe they didn’t do enough for them. OSEG seem to prioritize Redblacks as there biggest asset and even the Ottawa 67s more then the Fury when they were around I’m assuming because Ottawa is in a predominantly hockey dominant region. With that statement made it seemed Fury were always a afterthought. The club was never nurtured and organized in a way it can fully succeed. With Atletico Madrid being majority owners it gives me even more hope than ever. Atleti are a team that have done great business over the years with moving into there new stadium, developing generational talents and always having a keen eye on talent around the world. Just look at the list of strikers who have come from Atletico Madrid over the years the list truly goes on and on, and at some point you can’t make an excuse of just luck and have to admit that these business moves are calculated. This club won’t be neglected or looked at as a afterthought as Atletico are planning on making a competitive team as it seems that’s what they are expecting they aren’t just doing this for the means of making some money. This is being done to build talent up, build a sibling club network around the world similar to City Group with what they have going on with Manchester City, NYCFC, Melbourne City, Yokohama Marion’s and Etc. Again just like City Group they are doing this to build talent, but also build competitive teams with history. As previously indicated Atletico Madrid are a team and especially in recent history are one that have either won trophies or have been right in the mix of competing for them meaning I don’t think anything associated to the club can afford to be one that is disappointing. Even Atletico Ottawa are building that image from the get go with there newly announced slogan of “A club that doesn’t just hope for success but rather expects it” basically meaning what it means as its fairly self explanatory. Atletico Ottawa and parent club Atletico Madrid don’t hope that one day the new club will be able to make a name for themselves and compete for silverware it’s being looked at more as when rather than if. With the league still in its early stages only in its second season in history, Ottawa’s club has potential of being one of the league’s standout clubs and most decorated within soon time. By already building the identity of a club that will challenge for trophies will ultimately in the long run pay off because they’ll find success and success a lot of the times and especially in Ottawa for a sports team is key attribute to how a team can sustain itself and survive as a team based in Canada’s capital.
Regardless of the good backing it’s fairly evident that the placement of this new club in Ottawa in the Canadian Premier League is another major component to why this team has a better chance of surviving. Another issue that’ll dive into in this needs to be pointed and it’s in correlation to this Ottawa team being put in the CPL and why that alone is a huge plus to why this team will do well. Previously mentioned it months ago in my article I wrote about the struggles of supporting ur local club and mostly used examples from the Fury. The issue is the teams Ottawa were facing most of the time were no name clubs or clubs from cities that were much smaller than Ottawa from all across America. With Ottawa being the 8th and first expansion side the league has seen will mean Ottawa will play teams from all across the nation. Imagine a summer or spring night being able to see Atletico Ottawa play against Hamilton Forge FC a fixture which would somewhat be a derby as there in the same province or imagine Atletico Ottawa playing Calgary. The point is these fixtures would be against teams from cities most people on average heard of, driven through, visited or even lived in or are from. It makes certain levels of bragging rights intensified as there’s a level of familiarity rather than playing against a team that doesn’t really have a underlying sense of relation towards your club you came to see play. Atletico Ottawa now has a real chance to create history and strong rivalries unlike there predecessor in the city and are being put in a league where they don’t feel like outsiders.
The final major reason as to why I believe Atletico Ottawa will succeed on the pitch and off is all the lessons learned. Ottawa’s football history mainly in the last ten years has been to put it one way; rocky. With constant questions on the clubs future, or what league the team will play in or where they’ll play and etc. It seems this new club has put a end to all those questions as for the first time it seems the masses have faith in this project as it’ll be one that’s being built from a strong foundation and one being treated with precision. As the leagues commissioner has said on multiple occasions the league has done there research to determine what’s best and has looked at previous examples. Formally FC Edmonton were in the same league as Ottawa Fury earlier this decade but have continued the spirit of the former club and restarted in the CPL to a favourable response. With all the past mishaps and mistakes with previous owners and it seems fans finally are ready to back this club. Another argument that I’ve heard that was made needs to be discussed is how the Fury were unable to identify with the city of Ottawa and the soccer fans. Atletico Ottawa from the jump are trying to reach out to every demographic and get people on board with the clubs idea. They are building a look visually that seems to fit Ottawa’s overall identity and feel, these things are key in getting a city and fan base fully behind a team.
Only time will tell whether this team will succeed or not but without further evidence of anything else one can only truly assume it will. We will have to wait for this project to get going as the COVID-19 crisis has suspended the season temporarily due to the virus. Although This project is the ambitious I’ve seen in Ottawa’s soccer/football history and one of the most I’ve seen in my whole life all over the globe. With all the indications pointing at success we as eager fans and lovers of our hometown will just have to wait and see what the future will hold for Atletico Ottawa.