He’s the new general manager and president of FC Edmonton. He inherits a real fixer upper of a project.
In 2020, the Canadian Premier League side didn’t play a game at home. The Eddies participated in the “Island Games” tournament in lieu of a full season. FCE didn’t win a game, and finished in last place — that’s a “wooden spoon” for those of you not familiar with soccer lingo.
So, Newendorp is looking to build the team’s profile. He knows that comes with wins — but he knows, well, the wins might not come right away. So, improving the fan experience at Clarke Stadium in 2021 — hoping, of course, that there will be games there in 2021 — is key.
“Whether we can have a full stadium or a half-full stadium, people are spending their hard-earned money to come, so we have to give them the best game-day experience possible.”
He said he has a list of things he’d like to do ahead of the season, but he understands that maybe only a few of those changes can be made before a ball is kicked again. A new coach, Alan Koch, has just been hired.
One thing the Eddies have done in their more than 10 year history, whether it be in the CPL or the now-defunct North American Soccer League, was develop local players through their academy.
While Newendorp said he, along with owners Tom and Dave Fath, are committed to promoting local talent, they understand that the team has to improve. Local players will have the chance to prove they can lead the team’s turnaround; if they can’t, the team will develop talent outside of the club’s academy, with things like employing regional scouts and holding combines.
“The fact is, we had players who didn’t do nearly well enough,” says Newendorp. “And that doesn’t matter where they came from.”
He said that it’s a small section of sports fans that truly cares if the team has a lot of local players, or not. For the casual sports fan, for media attention, it’s all about the fan experience, which needs to improve, from food to promotions.
“If we had more hardcore soccer fans, I’d think differently. Let’s say we have 5,000 people at a game, only 100 or so know the team inside out. We’re committed to improving the game day experience regardless of the type of fan.”
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This article appears in the Winter 2021 issue of Edify.