1812 FC Revealed: What You Need To Know
This is an expansion piece on our previous 1812 FC article, with newly added content following the club’s official unveiling today.
Today, Canadian sports fans got a good look at potential League1 Ontario expansion side 1812 FC, which detailed itself via a livestream event earlier today. While fans already knew the unlikely path of coincidences that resulted in the creation of the club, there’s plenty more to the fledgling side that is now public knowlege.
Backed by football advisor Peter Raco and the co-owner of Atlantic City FC, Andrew Weilgus, the club has partnered with the Barrie Soccer Club in order to bring professional soccer to the city.
Here’s everything we know so far about 1812 FC as the club takes a significant step towards its goal of establishing both men and women’s League1 Ontario teams.
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.
How 1812 FC Got Its Name And Branding
1812 FC is certainly a far cry from a traditional moniker, and at face value seems like a bold move in an era where a club like York9 FC is considering a rebrand after its first-ever season. The title is an obvious nod to the founding of the city itself, which occurred due to the War of 1812. Weilgus wanted the club to have a Canadian sense of independence and history, making it clear that he wasn’t aiming to glorify war.
Everyone knows the War of 1812, so it’s a year that people can remember pretty easily, but it really comes down to that it’s the year Barrie was settled as a community. That’s why it was settled, the name of the city came from the commander who funneled supplied through Kempenfelt Bay down to forces in the GTA. The region gets its identity from that.Andrew Weilgus
The club crest features a horseshoe as an obvious nod to the Golden Horshoe area. Weilgus also states that it was the fall season beauty of Barrie that convinced him to use a golden leaf rather than the traditional red maple leaf seen in plenty of Canadian sides, too.
Weilgus worked with Derek Reese on the designs. Reese had also worked on the Atlantic City FC branding for Weilgus, and the club has already put up a selection of shirts, kit pre-orders, and more for supporters to purchase. As a non-profit lifting a brand newclub off the ground, Weilgus says, every dollar will count and will be put towards the club’s best interests.
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
Ronan says that the Kempenfelt Crew – the official supporters’ group – has been growing in size via WhatsApp, especially now that the buzz of 1812 FC has taken root. When the COVID-19 pandemic is more resolved, the group is looking forward to an official meetup after spending so long communicating solely through social media.
My thing is supporting soccer and knowing what fans want. That’s literally what I have to offer, it’s from a lifetime of supporting on the stands.Ronan Cordelle
As well, the Kempenfelt Crew comes in two forms: there’s an adult, full-fledged supporters group, and a similarly titled ‘Kempenfelt Krew’ designed for kids and youth groups.
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 Aims To 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
Interestingly, the Canadian Premier League had actually approached the Barrie Soccer Club about CPL expansion years ago, but without a partner the club simply couldn’t participate in such an initiative. Now that 1812 FC has entered the picture, it’ll be interesting to see how things progress.
The club has three players committed so far.
Andrew Weilgus has stated that three players have committed to the side so far, with one of them being the high-profile signing of former Toronto FC man Jeremy Hall. The 31-year-old Puerto Rico international has spent the last few years coaching the Toronto Juniors after having last played for USL side Sacramento Republic in 2018. Beyond being a leader on the pitch, it looks likely that Hall will also hold a position in the club office, too.
Andrew also stated that there is a current League1 Ontario veteran with USL experience who will also make the move to the club for the 2021 season, along with another player he boasts will probably be too good for the side to ultimately keep. The club would like to keep a backbone of higher-profile players to supplement a squad filled with local talent.
We will look at each player that we bring in, whether they have strong USL experience or strong MLS experience, to supplement the core group of local players. Those players are going to be leaders both on and off the field.Peter Raco
Weilgus also states that there are plenty of young Canadians who play south of the border because of the high level competitive play seen there. He’d like to see 1812 FC become the club of choice for collegiate athletes looking to hone their skills.
There’s an insane amount of Canadian talent in USL League Two and the NPSL. A ton of them. Those kids do that because they feel the League1 Ontario team level isn’t as good as the USL League Two level, and we want to change that. We want to make them know that the level they’ll be competing at, and the players and coaches they’ll have around them, will equal that level and not surpass it, and that they have a chance to come home during the summer.Andrew Weilgus
The Club Is Promising High Quality Game Streams
Regardless of what happens with OneSoccer’s proposed plan to stream select League1 Ontario games, Andrew states that the club is working on radio and television opportunities for local matches. At the moment, those details still need to be sorted out.
Everything will be recorded and streamed at a high level. That’s a guarantee.Andrew Weilgus
The club will be making more announcements in the coming months.
Raco made it clear that fans won’t be kept waiting in the dark for the next few months: 1812 FC intends to keep the community engaged by way of player announcements and, of course, the reveal of technical staff who will be working with the proposed League1 Ontario expansion side.
We’re all football guys first and foremost. We want to be engaging. It’s not that we want to turn the lights on and work by ourselves in a closed room. We want engagement with the community, with guys like yourself, and in order to do that is to try content and make some player announcements and personnel announcements from the technical side as well.Peter Raco
With the club now having been formally unveiled, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of local hype 1812 FC can build up. If all goes to plan, the Barrie-based club will prove itself a success in League1 Ontario and, down the line, may even make the jump to the Canadian Premier League – but there’s a lot of work to do before that can happen. Raco and Weilgus promise they’ll be giving it their all.