Six Things We Learned From The York United Owners
Today saw York United’s new owners greet the media for the first time ever, just about seven days after the ink was dry on their formal purchase of the Canadian Premier League side.
The Pasquel brothers will be the face of Game Plan Sports Group, the new owners of York United. Brothers Ricardo, Eduardo, and Miguel addressed the media and answered questions during a formal unveiling today, and the trio didn’t shy away from their ambitions, plans, and current priorities as they venture into club ownership for the first time.
Without further ado, here’s six big things we learned from the new ownership group today:
One word that the the Pasquel brothers repeatedly brought up was community: they may be the ones with the proverbial keys to the club, but they wanted to make it clear that York United is a community club first and foremost. Without a doubt, that’s an area the club has historically struggled with, and it’s important to course-correct within a crowded sports market such as Toronto.
“It’s going to be the city’s team, the community’s team,” says Ricardo, who notes that they will confer with local fans about their future home ground as they seek to build attendance numbers ahead of the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
Eduardo also confirmed that the club had already met groups and youth schools throughout the York Region to begin their own process of community contact. Members of the club’s supporters’ group were also invited out for a meeting with the ownership group to strengthen ties that already exist.
“We want to build something together with them in the community, and with kids. That’s something we’ve already started looking at,” adds Eduardo.
Brother Miguel also echoed that sentiment, too: “Like I was saying to some of the fans, this is also their team. When we look at the community, we want to grow with them,” he says.
All-In On Toronto, And That Means Family Too
It’s hard to chat about building a community if you’re not a part of it, and that’s why the Pasquel brothers are relocating their families from Mexico to Toronto: make no mistake, they’re all-in to guide the club through daily operations in-person. This marks a departure from the strategies employed by former President Angus McNab, who was largely based in New York during his time with the Nine Stripes.
The arrival of the new owners will begin with Ricardo moving with his young family this January, while brothers Eduardo and Miguel – who have older children – will follow in the summer, and will be frequent flyers between Canada and Mexico until then. Ricardo is the club’s new President and General Manager, Eduardo is the CEO, and Miguel is the Chief Commercial Office and Head of New Strategy Alliances.
Ricardo’s relationship with the city actually stretches back a way, as his wife used to call the city home.
“Ever since I met her, she’s been speaking very highly regarding Toronto. It was Toronto this, Toronto that, I started getting annoyed about Toronto,” he laughs, “Then maybe ten years ago was the first time that I came here and I said ‘yeah, I get why you speak so highly of Toronto.’ So, I’m very excited to be living here.”
Who Comprises The Ownership Group?
The trio of brothers may be the operators of the ownership group, but they’re not the only ones bringing capital to the project: when we asked for details about the additional Mexican investors described as ‘prominent’ by the CPL, they confirmed some further details – though they still haven’t named the firms directly.
“We have a couple of family offices in Mexico from the consumer and retail market,” came the answer. “They believe in us, and they like this project with us.”
For the uninitiated, a family office is a wealth and asset management firm that typically works with high-net worth investors to grow their wealth. Effectively, this means that the owners have the backing of multiple firms who presumably have some significant capital – something that the Canadian Premier League will likely have vetted very carefully after FC Edmonton.
“I would also like to add that we are also putting our life investments in this project,” adds Ricardo, showing that this venture is more than just business for the trio.
A Forever Home
York Lions Stadium is a venue that has proven quite an enigma for the club: since 2019, it has seen diminished attendance and a variety of matchday atmospheres (or lack thereof). Situated next to the subway in a very accessible location, the pros of such a spot have been negated by the limits of their tenant situation with landlords York University, which doesn’t leave them much leeway in terms of storage for matchday operations or what they can do to boost the matchday atmosphere itself.
The ownership change-up was preceded by tentative plans for a location at Woodbine, though the Nine Stripes had been concurrently examining multiple stadium solutions away from YLS. The Pasquel brothers, too, believe the future of the club lies away from their inaugural home ground, which is one that always been planned to be a temporary venue.
“We play in a great stadium right now. We’re very grateful to be university – they’re a first class university, but I also think we need our own steam,” states Eduardo. “For the fans, for our identity, for everything. We’re going to work on it. We’re going to going to see some options and what the best options are. We’re going to talk with the fans and the community, get them involved a lot in that decision. We’re going to start working on that day.”
While he wouldn’t state any specific date (it’s far too early for that), expect a stadium venue solution to be a high priority for the Pasquel brothers, though the club will certainly call York Lions Stadium home for 2024.
Roster Updates To Come
One of the big questions when it comes to a new ownership group is the direction the club’s playing roster will take. The bulk of the York United roster is either on a club option year or out-of-contract, with just eight athletes under contract for 2024. With Tass Mourdoukoutas already announcing his own departure, we asked when fans could expect an end-of-season update – and the answer is it might come as soon as next week.
The scope of turnover may be smaller than one might guess: the Pasquel brothers feel the roster at large is a good one to work with, with Ricardo even stating that he believes they have the best roster in the league. He also revealed that the brothers tuned in to York United matches all season long, building an idea of how the players function within the club’s ecosystem.
“I don’t want to take a shot at Bobby and Forge and everybody,” said Ricardo, who was then urged on by team communications VP Eoin O’Callaghan to do exactly that. “…but I don’t think it’s going to be as happy for many years to come for them.”
It’s Not Just A Focus On Mexico
The Pasquel family has ironclad links to Liga MX and the Mexico Football Federation, for whom their father served as General Secretary and CFO. Their grandparents also owned sports teams like Liga MX side Club Necaxa, and their uncle Alejandro Orvananos having been president of Club America – you get the jist of deep the family’s roots go. Even the Mexico Football Federation’s secretary general, Inigo Riestra, vouched for the Pasquel family.
Despite all those roots, stating that the club may focus on Mexican players (for whom they will leverage their connections, which makes sense) or enjoy preseason stints in the country (they plan to, at least in 2025) is an oversimplification. The brothers are quick to point out that their priority lies with investing in young Canadian talent and growing the game north of the border, and when it comes to international influence their eyes are open well beyond the confines of their homeland.
“Our vision for the future is investing in young Canadian talent,” says Ricardo. “That’s why we’re here, and I can tell you that’s maybe the most important factor.”
While the club will seek a balance between young talent and putting out a competitive roster in every tournament, he adds that international recruitment will take place from all corners of the globe.
“I can tell you we are exploring every option, from leagues in Africa, Asia, Mexico, Latin America…if not, I think we wouldn’t be doing a great job. Regarding Mexico, I can tell you we have many connections with most teams, so we’ll reach out to them. We’re going to meet in maybe December, January, or February and start building a relationship with them [and] get to know which players might be good for the CPL going forward.”
All-told, it would be easy to oversimplify the new ownership group as simply having strong ties with Mexico, but that does not truly reflect the vision and philosophy they spoke of today: the local community has been presented as a club cornerstone, and so to has a priority that resonates with the CPL’s own mission statement: the development of young Canadian talent.
“You’re getting people who have the genetics and genes of football, who love the game first and foremost, but they’re also business people. That combination of football and business is really going to service this club well,” said CPL commissioner Mark Noonan ahead of the press conference today.
The Pasquel brothers appear all-in on the Canadian game and fulfilling their collective dream of running a professional soccer club. Despite their family’s strong lineage with doing so, this is new territory for the Pasquel brothers, and growing pains can be expected. Still, the brothers spoke with plenty of positivity and seem genuinely keen to embark on this new chapter with York United.
For now, fans of the Nine Stripes can rest easy after a year of uncertainty regarding ownership, while the Canadian Premier League believes it has found safe hands in a crucial market – and a group that we know won’t be the last foreign investors the CPL seeks out, either.
Header Image Photo Credit: David Chant