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Official: Ottawa Fury to suspend operations in 2020

The USL club hasn’t been sanctioned and won’t play in 2020

MLS: Canadian Championship-Toronto FC at Ottawa Fury Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Ottawa Fury FC officially announced today that the franchise has suspended operations after “the club was unable to obtain required sanctioning from its governing bodies to play in the USL Championship next season.”

“Why would an established team which made the playoffs in the 2019 USL Championship season, had the 2nd best season in its 6-year history, developed a loyal fan base and won a league award for its team and game day operations be suspending operations?” Penned Ottaw Fury President John Pugh, in an open letter to fans Friday morning.

“Politics. Fury’s participation in the USL requires sanctioning from soccer’s governing bodies—Canada Soccer, US Soccer Federation, and CONCACAF. 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.”

A similar confrontation between Ottawa Fury and CONCACAF occurred before the 2019 season, but the Fury managed to obtain sanctioning prior to the start of the year. They were lucky to avoid this fate — that stands in front of them now — last year, but should have seen it as a warning sign.

The reason for not obtaining the proper sanctioning is that there’s now a top division in Canada, the Canadian Premier League (and MLS), whereas the Fury were in the second division in the United States, the USL Championship. Because they weren’t playing in their own country’s leeague or their “adopted” country’s top league (MLS), CONCACAF didn’t want to sanction them, and it appears that next year they won’t.

Ottawa might have been able to switch into the Canadian Premier League for 2020, but it looks as though Pugh and his team are going to take at least one year off, or fold completely, allowing another team in our nation’s capital to join Canada’s league.

In hindsight, they probably should have done it in 2019. Here’s the full statement from Fury President John Pugh:

Alternatively, Ottawa Fury could relocate to the United States to keep playing, according to CBC Ottawa: