Langley Launched: Introducing Vancouver FC
The Canadian Premier League has its ninth club in Vancouver FC, who will begin play in 2023.
The formal club reveal from SixFive Sports and Entertainment took place at the Langley Events Centre today, with the league’s second expansion team revealing its club colours, identity, and an inaugural head coach in Afshin Ghotbi.
The club’s crest is designed to be ‘clean, humble, and flexible’, with lines representing the patterns that are commonplace day-to-day like the bridges connecting communities to the farm fields that can be found in the Fraser Valley. The front-and-centre eagle has wings that represent the bridge cables connecting the lower mainland, with the eagle itself representing strength and domination.
“When you look at the colours, you look at the branding, it’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s a little bit street, which I think is the essence of football,” said co-founder Rob Friend, who also has a stake in the island’s Pacific FC. “The game is played in the streets around the world, so I think having a little bit of that street edge, rougher tones, and a very simple clean name, all of the branding elements come together nicely when you see it.”
The club – which can also be called VFC or Van FC for short – also features an intertwined monogram designed by DARBY, harkening to similar initial-based branded clubs like Dortmund, Napoli, and Inter. While the logo and monogram give off a decidedly monochrome feel, the club does have a splash of colour in a warm red that we expect to see on away kits.
The league’s newest expansion team will play out from Langley’s Willoughby Community Park, though full stadium details haven’t been released as of yet – though, says Rob Friend, the plans for this have been more or less finalized for months now.
“Honouring our sporting past, celebrating our region and uniting the South Coast are among our key objectives as we introduce soccer fans on the Lower Mainland to Vancouver FC,” added Friend. “We look forward to sharing the region’s existing passion for the game with the rest of the Canadian Premier League through its support for our club and, together with our fans, building an even stronger soccer culture on and off the field that serves as a point of connection for all of our local communities.”
The club shop revealed that VFC’s inaugural kits won’t release until Spring 2023, with scarves selling out in a matter of minutes.
Afshin Ghotbi Named Inaugural Head Coach
The newly-minted expansion side has entrusted former Iran head coach Afshin Ghotbi to lead Vancouver FC through its first season. We’ve compiled a detail dossier on the new gaffer, who came ninety minutes away from a World Cup final while assisting South Korea. While Ghotbi has coached across a variety of countries, he does have North American experience from his time at both UCLA and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Make no mistake: this is a marquee signing for a CPL side’s coaching recruitment, indicating that SixFive Sports and Entertainment are ready here to make a statement with Vancouver FC. While the club did interview several domestic coaches, when Ghotbi submitted his resume he became an instant favourite.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of difficult and challenging projects,” says Ghotbi. “If you follow my career, partly because of my origin and because of being Iranian-American, I don’t get teams like Bayern Munich or Real Madrid or Man City, I get teams that I have to really build from being either a medium level or being a low level, and I have to build them up. It’s become part of my skillset that I can make players better, make teams better. I can make lemonade out of a lemon and I can try to create an atmosphere that brings the best out of the group. I do believe in the philosophy that we need to kind of create a team that the whole is greater than the sum.”
Ghotbi has high expectations for his new chapter out west, hoping to raise a team that will battle for playoffs in year one and, he hopes, collect a North Star Shield by year two. He’s currently still on the hunt for an assistant coach, so news of his supporting staff is still yet to come.
Stadium Yet To Come
While Vancouver FC will play from the Willoughby Community Park situated at the Langley Events Centre, the stadium isn’t quite here yet – in fact, it’ll be shipped to the province from abroad. Fans will need to wait to see what their future home ground will really look like, with season ticket offers expected to come in around the new year.
Friend had revealed that the stadium plans had essentially been finalized as far back as February, with the side targeting the valley market. The decision to settle in Langley was revealed not long after, with Toronto-based Starlight Investments also revealed to be part of the SixFive Sports and Entertainment group.
The league’s expansion into Vancouver was announced just one week shy of a year ago, with SixFive’s Dean Shillington, Rob Friend, and Josh Simpson all involved from the get-go. The trio had initially hoped to launch a team in the lower mainland in the inaugural season, but planted their flag with Pacific FC while the steps to secure today’s announcement took place.
Vancouver FC becomes the Canadian Premier League’s ninth team and will begin play next season.