York United Ceases Partnership With United Football Academy
York United’s new ownership group has preached a community-first approach since purchasing the club in November, and one big step into that process was evidently severing the club’s exclusive partnership with the United Football Academy.
The move comes after the owners have reached out to local football clubs in the Greater Toronto Area to gather feedback on how York United can best integrate itself into the community, suggesting that the path YUFC may eventually take will involve many of the community’s grassroots organizations rather than the formation of an exclusive partnership with one academy.
The United Football Academy had changed their logo one week week ago ahead of today’s announcement, with the cessation of the organizations’ exclusive partnership announced effective immediately today.
“We would like to recognize all of the important work carried out by Mark di Cristofaro and everyone associated with United Football Academy,” said the YUFC owners. “We look forward to continuing discussions about establishing a new iteration of our relationship that can better fit our vision of a wider reaching approach to developing young players.”
The academy’s exclusive ties were launched in 2022 as a combined vision from former Club President Angus McNab and coach Mark Di Cristofaro, both of whom were linked through their ties with the Baldassarra Family. The result saw U-10 to U-19 categories made within the United Football Academy, which saw some of their youth sides field in competitions in Italy, Portugal, or out east against other CPL opposition.
Last season also saw youngsters Shola Jimoh and Adriano Iannello sign developmental deals after coming in from the academy side.
York United owners Game Plans Sports Group state that their decision on which developmental path is best to take will be based on consultation with the local community, the first step in which led to the ending of their exclusive partnership with the United Football Academy.
“We are grateful to those clubs who have – over the past few weeks – offered us their time and insight as we continue to learn how to make the greatest impact at grassroots level and beyond. We look forward to continuing those conversations and are excited by the potential for future collaborations,” read a statement from the club.
Of course, it appears the door has been left open for the United Football Academy to work with the club in a less-exclusive form, and perhaps with branding that separates them from the Canadian Premier League side.
York United rests in one of the most well-populated football locations available in Canada, though previous ownership never found a way to truly engrain the community and build sustainable figures in attendance. The Nine Stripes saw multiple games net under a thousand spectators last season, something the new owners will want to fix immediately as they kickstart a new era for the club.
Header Image Photo Credit: Denys Rudenko