Posted on: Monday, November 14, 2011
By Cleve Dheensaw, Timescolonist.com November 7th, 2011
Ever wanted to be like Mark Cuban, Paul Allen, Jerry Jones or Francesco Aquilini? Even a little bit? Here’s your chance.
Why have a tiny owner’s box when you can have an entire grandstand full of them?
The Victoria Highlanders unveiled an ambitious plan Monday to make 1,500 season-ticket holders also team owners, meaning that for an $84 adult pass, anyone can own a share of the team.
The club will operate again next spring and summer in the United Soccer League Premier Development League, the current fourth level of soccer in North America and top amateur level below the top-tier MLS, second-tier NASL and third-tier pro USL.
The current sole owner of the Highlanders, Alex Campbell Jr., is meeting Thursday with Canadian Soccer Association officials who are considering a national pro league to operate in medium-sized markets below MLS markets Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
In whatever future league the Highlanders find themselves, Campbell plans it to be as a community-owned team based on the model of the Green Bay Packers, Saskatchewan Roughriders and FC Barcelona. Under the plan, 1,500 season ticket holders would own 30 per cent of the Highlanders. Another 30 per cent of the club would be owned by local soccer associations, with Lakehill, Gorge FC and Prospect Lake having agreed in principle to the concept and Campbell meeting today with Bays United. Campbell would retain a 20 per cent share with the other 20 per cent reserved for operator. Liability is limited, meaning if the team loses money, season ticket holders or the local associations are not responsible for any club losses.
“It’s a no-risk prospect [for shareholders]. My goal is to have the soccer community united behind a common purpose,” Campbell told a packed public meeting Monday night at Uplands.
“So when we send players to pro teams or the national team, we can all say we did it together.”
Campbell admitted some of the established soccer associations “were at odds” with the fact the Highlanders organization also features development academy teams.
“Some of the associations had reservations [about the Highlanders development program clashing with their own] but now we will all be on the same team together as an organization that is owned by the local fans and local associations,” he said.
“The idea is to create a Victoria soccer talent factory.”
Meanwhile, Campbell addressed the issue of the Highlanders potentially being homeless after the 2012 season if the City of Victoria allows a new West Coast Baseball League team to have exclusive spring/summer use of Royal Athletic Park starting in 2013.
“The City needs to hear from people that this is not acceptable,” said Campbell, who said the Highlanders will endure, regardless of what transpires at Royal Athletic.
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