York United Nears New Ownership Announcement
It’s been almost a month since Canadian Premier League commissioner Mark Noonan said there’d be an ownership update for York United, and the league appears set to make good on that general timeframe.
A group described by the commissioner as ‘world-class’ have indeed put pen to paper on the deal, with sources within the league revealing that the CPL hopes to have an announcement regarding the new clubrunners by the month’s end – though an exact date could not be confirmed.
While the club’s own staff are left largely in the dark for the time being, reliable sources have indicated that the group purchasing York United from Canada Soccer Business were foreign. Whether that means a multi-club ownership like Atletico Ottawa or simply new foreign investors remains to be seen, however.
“We were not pleased with the development of York in arguably the most important market in Canada,” Noonan had said in the buildup to the CPL Final. “We took a risk on ourselves and we bet on ourselves to take control of that club, risking that we could remarket that club and get great ownership.”
While that didn’t pan out for FC Edmonton, it’s thankfully a different case for York United. Several interested parties had scoped out the Nine Stripes following its acquisition by Canada Soccer Business earlier this year. That includes 777 Partners, who were rumoured to be a favourite, though we can confirm they passed on the opportunity.
While the original owners in the Baldassarra Family couldn’t find a way to make York United (or its original York9FC identity) prove a consistent draw with the Toronto and York Region markets, it’s fair to say there’s a great opportunity for the new owners to carve out a nice swath for themselves if they can make it work.
A high-ranking member of the league admitted there was ‘plenty of work to do’ to turn the Toronto-based side into a showcase, but the market share is certainly there. In fact, Noonan believes the population of Toronto could one day lend itself to multiple Canadian Premier League clubs in the city.
For now one will suffice, and it’s about to get a fresh investment from some highly-touted owners.
One of the biggest hurdles will be the home ground: the club currently plays from York Lions Stadium, a university venue on the northern end of the city’s subway line. The matchday experience has never been great due to the limitations of what their tenancy permits, and while the McNab era laid groundwork in a potential Woodbine location, there’s no telling what the new owners have in mind for a permanent home.
“To market a club in Toronto, the dollars and cents you have to spend is astronomical to cut through,” former Club President Angus McNab had said on the matter. Having led the club’s rebrand and worked towards a permanent home ground to call home, McNab tendered his resignation earlier this month amidst the sale’s progression.
With new ownership touted as being world-class on the verge of being announced, there’ll be plenty of eyes on York United as the club sets sail for a new era over the next few weeks.
More to come as the story progresses.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques