Five Things We Know About 1812 FC
While fans now know the unlikely path of coincidences that resulted in the creation of 1812 FC, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding Barrie’s upcoming professional football club. It’s now clear that the club is being backed by football advisor Peter Raco and the co-owner of Atlantic City FC, Andrew Weilgus. The duo have also partnered with the Barrie Soccer Club in order to bring professional soccer to the city, but there’s a lot more happening behind the scenes, too.
Without further ado, here are five things we know about potential League1 Ontario expansion side 1812 FC:
What Professional Means In This Context
When 1812 FC first announced itself as a professional club, this led to a lot of questions from fans: with League1 Ontario itself being a semi-professional league (and having plenty of rules regarding player compensation), how would 1812 FC fit in with this context? As it turns out, investors Weilgus and Raco were referring to the club operations side of the business when calling 1812 FC a professional club, with only some of the player squad being compensated financially – though items like housing, food, and transportation are other means of player compensation that the club may assist with.
It’s really about this club being professionally managed from the top down, from the way we treat our supporters to how we present ourselves to our corporate sponsors and what we offer on the football side of things: what type of training environment, the coaching environment, the quality of these coaching environments, how the players are treated, as detailed as how we organize their transportation and meals, and allowances. Certainly there will be players that are compensated financially, but when we think about compensation it’s much more than just financial compensation at this level, there’s also housing. The word professional club is much more robust than some people think.Peter Raco
1812 FC still has plenty to finalize when it comes to its compensation strategies. With Atlantic City FC, Weilgus had a deal with the Tropicana Hotel and Resort to provide free housing for his squad. In Barrie, it’s unlikely he will find a similar deal, so he’s looking in to what can be done. Corporate sponsorships will go a long way to assisting with the likes of transportation and meals, too.
The Club Will Have A Supporter’s Trust
Like over a hundred clubs in England, Wales, and Scotland, 1812 FC will have a Supporters’ Trust that owns a percentage of the team, which will operate as a non-profit. This will give fans a long-term voice at the table and, as Weilgus stated, give community members like Ronan Cordelle – who is now listed as the trust’s director – more than a token pat on the back. The trust will be written into the club’s constitution to prevent it from ever being taken out.
As you know, this all started from the supporters formalizing themselves and creating a group. Before we got involved, they met with the mayor, they met with politicians, they met with media personnel, and they really did a fine job of creating a platform. We wanted to professionalize that, but we didn’t want to take away their voice or ambitions in any way.Peter Raco
The idea of a Supporters’ Trust first came to Weilgus by way of former Swansea City player Kristian O’Leary, who spent some fifteen years with the Welsh side and was included in its ring of honour. O’Leary now coaches at Atlantic City FC, where Weilgus describes him as one of his closest friends and confidants.
He always told me how much he appreciated the Swansea Supporters Trust and the fact that they own a portion of the club and have a voice at the table, and what that means to the players and what it means to fans.Andrew Weilgus
The Barrie Soccer Club Will Handle The Technical Side
There’s a three-pronged approach to running 1812 FC: Weilgus and Raco are handling business operations, Cordelle will be helping lead the aforementioned Supporters’ Trust, and the Barrie Soccer Club will handle the technical operations. This means that the 52-year-old local side will be handling coaching for the men and women’s League1 Ontario teams (and their reserves), training, and direct oversight of a player pathway that will see Barrie SC members potentially rise all the way up from the U-4 level to 1812 FC itself.
To be able to be given the opportunity to hire the coaches, recruit players, and run tryouts, and basically run the on-field product is a dream come true for us. That’s how we’ve partnered with them, and that’s our role right now to get this thing launched.Will Devellis, Barrie Soccer Club Vice President
Weilgus states that the club will likely announce a head coach in the next few months, with Weilgus and Raco also making some signings independently of the Barrie Soccer Club. In terms of local talent, the Barrie Soccer Club will also be holding open tryouts to help flesh out the inaugural 1812 FC roster alongside an expanded high performance program.
The biggest thing is that once we appoint the coaches, through them we will start the process of building the program. It’ll be a ten month program. The league will go next summer, but the program will start building from the fall all the way through to ensure we have success. There’s quite a bit of work that has to be done.Mark Cristante, Barrie Soccer Club Technical Director
Cristante – who holds a UEFA B coaching license and is aiming to acquire his UEFA A license next year – states that Barrie SC will likely mirror its own training programs to reflect that of 1812 FC, who will in turn have some of the club’s veteran players run coaching clinics for youth players at Barrie SC. The intention is a symbiotic relationship that works for both clubs.
The club will play from JC Massie Field
While Ronan’s original call for a professional club to come to Barrie suggested that the Barrie Community Sports Complex would be a good fit, both Peter and Andrew have zeroed in on JC Massie Field as the preferred home ground of 1812 FC. While Weilgus recognizes that the location doesn’t have as many seats (474) as he would like, there are a variety of other factors that make it the ideal location:
Oh yeah, we’re 100% going for JC Massie Field at Georgian College. We realize there’s a bit of a seat limitation. They’ve got about five hundred seats plus standing room only. It’s a new field, it’s a turf field which we think in that climate we need, especially as it rains and the season goes. It’s also close enough to downtown that I feel like we can get a community out versus the Barrie Sports Complex, which has even less seating and is further out. That’s the goal.Andrew Weilgus
Raco states that the club expects to confirm the home ground within the next three-to-six months, with talks set to resume once the COVID-19 pandemic is somewhat more resolved. Should a deal be struck with the college, it’s possible that 1812 FC may also be able to use the 20,000 square foot gymnasium in a similar deal as to what York9 FC has with York University. The artificial turf field also includes lighting for evening games and a digital scoreboard.
The Club Has CPL Ambitions
While the club intends to compete in the 2021 League1 Ontario season pending a future application, the aspirations of the ownership group don’t end there: if corporate sponsorship and reactions from the Barrie community at large prove fruitful, 1812 FC could put in a bid to become a Canadian Premier League expansion club in the future.
It’s no secret that our intention is to perform at a very high level both on and off the field, and I think it’s important that we take small steps here. It’s no secret that our ambitions are to reach the highest level of soccer, and take the Barrie and Simcoe region to the highest level of soccer we can in the area. I think our initial steps here are to better understand the market and the community, and the community’s acceptance to the team. There will be many inputs along the way, and we’ll continuously be collecting data to help support a decision and an attempt to cascade up the ladder to the CPL.Peter Raco
Even outside of the club’s Canadian Premier League aspirations, 1812 FC is aiming high: the club reportedly has a few players committed to the side already, and one of them has clocked in over fifty appearances for Toronto FC. Over the next few months, Raco says the club will engage the community by unveiling some of 1812 FC’s inaugural signings.
With the club poised to have a formal unveiling on Thursday, June 18, 2020, fans will be able to tune in to watch Andrew Weilgus explain more about the club’s identity and vision, along with information regarding future player signings, the partnership with Barrie Soccer club, and more.