The search for Ottawa’s North American Soccer League team coach could be a step closer, said Ottawa Fury owner and president John Pugh.
The franchise will commence league play in 2014 as the major stadium reconstruction project at Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park is completed.
“We do have a search in progress,” said Pugh, who is also a partner with NASL franchise owner Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. “We have had some initial discussions with some coaches and we are now in the process of trying to get a short list of people that we would like to interview.
“We are looking at a coach that is known to soccer fans, who has respect for his peers, players, fans management and so on.”
Pugh said he hopes the team will have a coach that meets the brand of soccer they want for the club.
“We have a certain brand of soccer that we like – which is possession with a purpose, that is exciting and good to watch. I think that is going to be one of the most important characteristics of the coach that we are looking for,” said Pugh.
Canadian soccer supporters had a chance last month to submit their names of choice for the new Ottawa NASL franchise through a name-the-team contest.
Pugh said they received more than 4,000 entries and added that it won’t be long before the decision on the name of the team is announced.
“We are working with a branding company from Oregon to look at branding both the football team and the soccer team,” said Pugh.
NEW LEADERSHIP NEW DIRECTION
On Jan. 17, OSEG appointed Bernie Ashe as the new CEO to oversee the group’s operations, including sports franchises, entertainment business and Lansdowne Park operations.
“We are over excited to have been able to attract a man of his calibre. He’s got a lot of managerial experience,” said Pugh.
“As the CEO of OSEG he has a lot on his plate. It’s quite a job and we are happy with the man we selected to do it.”
In a statement, Roger Greenberg, who is also an OSEG partner, said he was delighted that Ashe agreed to join the group and lead business operations.
“From the beginning, we planned to hire a CEO with a track record of success in diverse industries, including sports and entertainment, and we’ve certainly found one in Bernie,” Greenberg said in a release shortly after the hiring. “He also has deep roots in our community and a history of community service, which speaks to his integrity and our core values. Bernie will be a great asset to our organization and our city.”
OSEG partnered with the City of Ottawa to revitalize and manage Lansdowne Park, which will house a 24,000-seat stadium for football, soccer and other outdoor events, a 9,800-seat arena, the historic Aberdeen Pavilion and Horticulture Building, the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, a new commercial district, an office tower, two condominium towers, townhomes and an urban park.
OSEG will manage the facilities and own and operate a CFL football team, an NASL soccer team and the Ottawa 67’s OHL hockey team.
“I’m thrilled and honoured to be part of such an incredible team of community leaders and to be involved in such an important community project,” said Ashe. “The new Lansdowne will soon be one of Ottawa’s most inviting, year-round destinations for everyone in our region, and my role is to ensure that it remains vibrant and viable for decades to come.”
From 1991 to 1997, Ashe served as executive vice-president and CEO of the Ottawa Senators.