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FC Edmonton Sacks Coaching Staff, Makes Budget Cuts

2012 September 30
by Brian Quarstad

Edmonton coach Harry Sinkgraven was given his walking papers on Friday.

FC Edmonton announced on Friday that they had released head coach Harry Sinkgraven and assistant coach Hans Schrijver for what the club said was budgetary reasons. While the team also told Steven Sandor of The 11.ca that the club is going through a 30-35% budget cut, sources have said there have been problems brewing within FC Edmonton for some time with players falling out of favor with Sinkgraven and division in the locker room. It was a problem that evidently the team could no longer put up with, especially in light of the cuts owner Tom Fath is insisting his team make.

Despite Sinkgraven’s poor career record with Edmonton he was given a contract extension by the team in mid July of this year. The decision seemed odd as Sinkgraven had an all-time record with Edmonton of 13-21-10 when his contract was renewed on July 19th. His 2012 record was 3-9-4 from the season opener through July 15th.

According to Sandor, Sinkgraven and Fath “came to an arrangement” regarding the 2013 portion of his contract.

“It’s sad to see people let go from the team,” said Eddies defender Paul Hamilton. “When you have a season like we did, changes are inevitable. We have lost some teammates, and now it is the coaches.”

Earlier in the week Edmonton had released several players from their roster. Defenders Fabien Vorbe, along with midfielders Matt Lam and Ilja van Leerdam and striker Sérisay Barthélémy were all released from the club. Lam was one of the players who had been in Sinkgraven’s doghouse along with Shaun Saiko who despite being Edmonton’s best player was told not to dress for several matches this season. Lam had been suspended from the team in late August and never returned.

“At this point we felt that changes had to be made,” said technical director Joe Petrone. “We’re looking at fresh faces so we need to make room. We want to keep the core intact but we also need to look at new players to bring in.”

It was believed that Edmonton had the highest payroll in the NASL and Sandor claims that Sinkgraven was the highest paid coach in the league. The organization also had year round training for their players and preseason trips that took them south to Arizona. Fath has also allowed the team to stay in the south for extended periods of time early in the season rather than flying back and forth from Edmonton after matches. With the cuts, FC Edmonton’s payroll will most likely fall more in line with the rest of the NASL teams and their spring training may also be axed according to Edmonton’s owner.

“We likely won’t be going to Arizona this year,” said Fath.

“If you look at our budget, and the number of fans we have been getting, we have to make some tough decisions,” continued Fath. “With our coaches, we had to go in a different direction… We haven’t seen any significant successes on the revenue side.”

Just two weeks ago Fath hosted NASL Commissioner David Downs and CEO Aaron Davidson to get support for the team and to try to drum up momentum for a soccer stadium that the city of Edmonton would build. But Edmonton’s crowds only averaged 1,525 at Clarke Stadium, the lowest in the league. Fath had delayed choosing a venue for 2012 until March 29th with construction starting on Clarke Stadium on April 10th to put in temporary seating. With the very late decision on choosing Clarke Stadium and then construction dates set for after the NASL season opener, thing quickly bogged down. First weather held up construction of temporarily seating to the stadium that only held 800. Then construction got mired down with building code issues. In the end the capacity of the stadium was only 1,200 when Fath had promised a 4,000 seat stadium. USSF regulations for a Division 2 soccer team require a stadium of 5,000.

 

37 Responses
  1. WSW permalink
    October 1, 2012

    The website transfermarkt.de had it right about payroll, but whenever I brought it up it was dismissed as a “Euro crazy website”

  2. October 1, 2012

    What in particular did they have right? Most of that information on that site was far, far off the mark.

  3. Bart permalink
    October 1, 2012

    Fath should consider moving his team to the USL PDL league, his chosen stadium fits those requirements far better than that of a pro division team.

    What was this road maker thinking? That he could have revenue of a 5,000 seat stadium in a 1,200 venue?

    At least Boris has it right, house at least 15 players in a one bedroom apartment and make sure it is walking distance from the practice fields. And don’t bother about air conditioning in the South, it is overrated and costs too much money.

    If Fath practiced the same, his heating bills would go down.

  4. amerisnob permalink
    October 1, 2012

    I’m slightly concerned about the lack of progress on the expansion of their stadium. If that never happens, there’s no way this team lasts much longer. If it does, the fan support is there clearly and they’ll be one of the more healthy teams in the league financially.

  5. October 1, 2012

    Oy, WSW doesn’t get it again. His favorite website has completely made-up numbers, but because Edmonton supposedly has the highest payroll in the league, he feels completely vindicated.

    That made-up website (which can’t accurately peg the transfer value of players who aren’t actually TRANSFERRED) pegs their team value at 1.5 million Euros. When their budget was more like $400,000, reportedly.

    They have Minnesota AS THE HIGHEST-VALUED ROSTER IN THE LEAGUE at nearly 2 million Euro. You think Minnesota has a high player budget? Really?

    And Edmonton is….last in their listing. Last. Not first. Last.

    So, no. Again, you’re wrong. You’re loud wrong. And yet – as you always do – you pretend you’re actually right based on information that clearly proves you wrong. You’re a disaster.

  6. October 1, 2012

    amerisnob “The fan support is there clearly” based on what? That they can get 1,500 people to a game?

  7. Tom permalink
    October 1, 2012

    Bart’s comments always crack me up.

  8. October 1, 2012

    Budgetary changes seem to make people assume the worst, when in fact the lack of budget cuts is the beginning of the end. This makes FC Edmonton healthier. Fath went all out, and now he is scaling back. Our current league champions are champions on a budget, and when looking at Minnesota and Edmonton side by side financially it is clear that money was seemingly wasted.

  9. Bart permalink
    October 1, 2012

    @Daniel Blodgett

    Nice theory if you have unlimited funds. Fath is scaling back because he ignored the market conditions and lost big. It does not make Edmonton healthier, it just cuts the bleed at this point.

    More importantly, it does not solve the root of the problem, which is a stadium that simply cannot generate enough revenue to make his model work. That is the brushy eyebrow bandit’s real problem.

    The current league champions have a venue that allows for a lot of things to occur, and they had the benefit of using “OPM”, or other people’s money to continue. Fath does not have that luxury. In spite of the fact that harsh West Canadian winters allow for ample road renovation opportunities, lost money is always lost money.

    Help, I have fallen and I can’t get back up!!!

  10. John permalink
    October 1, 2012

    def the money that was being wasted could have been utilized towards marketing or improving/ starting a development academy

    toronto f.c needs to do this next

  11. Tom permalink
    October 1, 2012

    I wonder what this news plus the spring/fall schedule will do to Edmonton. That new schedule definitely favors southern teams.

  12. October 1, 2012

    Tom, if you want to know, take a few minutes to listen to this podcast we did on the split season and listen for the segment with Steven Sandor from Edmonton who also does the color commentary for the live stream matches and writes the11.ca. I asked Steven that very question as he has a great rapport with the Edmonton front office. His answer might surprise you.

    http://www.insidemnsoccer.com/2012/09/11/nasl-podcast-episode-45/

  13. October 1, 2012

    Bart, I think Daniel makes a great point. I understand that you don’t agree with the NASL model and you might end up being correct. I know you think your correct. Personally I think Fath made mistakes and overspent. I don’t think that was a sustainable model. The question is, if he can get in a stadium, even a revamped Clarke and then does some marketing with budget cuts in other areas, can he start to see the bleeding slow down and start to turn the other direction like SA has proven can be done. Edmonton is certainly no Montreal, but even though the Impact never made a profit from what I understand, their 11,000 a game average is certainly something to shoot for and if they too had kept their payroll in line they might have made a profit as well. They certainly should have been making a profit with 11,000 fans per match.

  14. WSW permalink
    October 1, 2012

    @Brian

    They were right about Edmonton’s payroll in 2011 to 2012 they were on top, then for 2012 they are at the bottom.

    So they overspent in the beginning of 2012 then as the year went on they dropped the budget.

  15. October 2, 2012

    Or…they just made stuff up.

    Who’s on top of the supposed NASL transfermarkt.de standings? Minnesota.

    Do you REALLY think ownerless Minnesota had the highest payroll in the league? Really?

    You have no shame, do you? Anything that proves you wrong, you discount. Anything you THINK proves you right (even when it doesn’t), you tout to the heavens.

  16. Mike permalink
    October 2, 2012

    Both sides of the argument do have merit here. Fath was spending big, and didn’t get the results he wanted, so cutting back to more reasonable expenses makes sense. However, the fact that he STATED PUBLICLY that he’s slashing the budget has to be considered a red flag. That’s not normal business protocol, and it comes across to me like an ultimatum to the city, sponsors, and fans of “give us the support we need, or I might pull the plug”. Until seeing something more positive to the contrary, I have to put them on official death watch.

  17. Bart permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @BQ

    What I don’t agree with is a model where one Brazilian company can serve as Godfather to 75% of the teams in a league that would not stand on their own if not propped up by the juice boxes being delivered by Ugly Joe and Tootoo Nelson.

    I agree with the USSF standards, now …. if only a real league could come forth that actually abides by those standards so that the market can determine if this will actually work.

    This is not unlike Obama telling the military contractors to not provide notice that they will be having layoffs during this year’s election season (a required US Law) and if the contractors are sued, Obama will subsidize by providing taxpayer dollars to defend the lawsuit so the notice does not go out.

    It ain’t real…..

  18. October 2, 2012

    Bart, you have anti Obama, conservative tendencies? Shocking!

  19. Tom permalink
    October 2, 2012

    What Traffic is currently doing and USSF is alowing sounds alot like Free Enterprise to me. If Traffic views it as an investment and that is how they want to spend their money why should we even care? Seriously – why? If anything we should be grateful to Traffic for continuing to do what they are doing and the positive economic influence that they have. Players/agents are employed, front office personnel are employed, concessions are sold, game day staff is needed, someone has to mow the lawn and clean the bathrooms at the stadium, insurance companies make money on workman’s comp, etc… and all this with little if any government support (that I’m aware of). Instead of complainng about Traffic you should write them a big, fat thank you for believing in the American business model and helping (in their own small way) to stimulate a few local economies. Some may say let the market decide, but who are we to define the market and how it should work? Every market is different, is not in a vaccuum, and there is no “one size fits all” overriding economic model. Complaining about “market economics” while the government hands out farm, oil, and other subisidies just makes me chuckle. If they sell the teams and make a profit – so be it, if they can’t sell the teams and lose millions of dollars – so be it. Caveat Emptor and that my friend is the American way. Sometimes I think folks have a bit of a “Don Quixote” complex and are out fighting the windmills in their minds…..

  20. Amerisnob permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @KT

    1500 a game at a 1200 seat stadium indicates there is a much greater potential attendance for the team.

    If you want proof, check the attendance the one game they temporarily expanded the facility. Over 2500 vs Atlanta.

  21. yankiboy permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @Amerisnob: I planned on just being a silent bystander when you posted how potentially rosy you think things are in Edmonton; I abstained but now that you have decided to stick with your very curious contention, I just can’t resist.

    One game is your sample size? One? Come on, Bro!?!?? That’s what makes you think that they have such a big upside??? That is marketplace unlike any other in not only Canada but also the NASL.

    Please check out the brilliant Steve Sandor segments that we have been featuring recently on the IMS NASL podcasts. Brian just put another one up and another one is in the pipeline.

    No disrespect, Bro but that is some really shaky-no potentially disastrous logic.

    Let me put it this way, just because Puerto Rico Islanders have drawn as many as 11,5000 on a couple ocassions doesn’t mean that you should be assuming that they are going to be drawing 5,000 regularly. Not even with a renovated stadium and a bunch of ticket specials–it just ain’t tha easy, Playah. Really it ain’t.

    Oh yeah-Maximum respect for temporarily giving the beating of the pro/rel drum a rest. It’s nice to hear some of your other takes (even if we may happen to disagree). Gotta give ya mad props on that.

  22. tomASS permalink
    October 2, 2012

    Thumbs up to Bart for fiscal conservative and free market principles.

  23. Bart permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @Tom

    Thanks for the post. The issue is not about Traffic spending their money as they see fit. God Bless them for having the ability to bleed millions of dollars a season (which might have been better spent on a yacht in Montenegro) and them thinking remotely somehow that this is an investment. That is their God given right to do so and as a capitalist, I salute them for it. I salute Fath, my bushy eyebrowed road maverick, for doing the same.

    What I don’t support is the blah blah blah, NASL is now stable, the USSF standards saved the day for D2 soccer rhetoric. Until Traffic truly only owns one team (and that might be the Stars), and does not funnel, shall we say, under the table monies to other teams in the league, and each individual NASL team operates with individual majority owners that have the minimum liquidity and net worth requirements and are prepared to go it on their own, then NASL is not a stable organization. It is that simple.

    As Fat Amy says in Pitch Perfect, …” I crushed it…..”…

  24. October 2, 2012

    Oh, so now you’re a movie aficionado too. Are you Neil Morris in disguise?

  25. Bart permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @BQ

    When you are my age, you only have three things going for you:

    1. Your wife beats you regularly
    2. Not eating fiber will cause longer bathroom breaks; and
    3. Going to the movies lowers your heating/cooling bills

    We call it the simple pleasures of life….

  26. tomASS permalink
    October 2, 2012

    @ Bart – you are blessed to still have a physical relationship with your wife. If I knew you at all I could have done all sorts of pot stirring with that one.

    Remember beer can provide the daily requirement of fiber.

  27. Stephen permalink
    October 3, 2012

    @BQ
    re: Montreal Impact

    Aren’t the Impact a non-profit company? Wouldn’t it make sense they never said “we made a profit?” I don’t see why the MLS would award a franchise to Joey Saputo if he is a terrible businessman…

  28. tomASS permalink
    October 3, 2012

    @ Stephen – non-profits can make profits. They just can’t disperse them to owners or shareholders. The surplus (profits) can be held in reserve for reinvestment into the non-profit organization at sometime in the future. Of course if they are held in reserve too long there always seems to be a tendency for miss-use of those monies

  29. October 3, 2012

    @Stephen, I think that Bart might be able to answer that better than I can but I am pretty sure they were included in the feasibility study done by the city of San Antonio when Hartman was looking for public money to build his stadium. At least that’s how I remember it and also if I recall correctly it was recommended that the city not help fund his stadium because the study of D2 soccer compiled by Alan Rothenberg’s group out of California, showed that no one in 2nd division had created a profit scenario? It is possible I’m mistaken on this.

    Bart?

  30. yankiboy permalink
    October 3, 2012

    Piggybacking on what tomASS added, if I recall correctly, there was one year–2009 I think-where Uncle Joey and Montreal took the UNSOLICITED step of actually RAISING the already negotiated salaries of the rostered players.

    The way that I heard it explained is that as non-profit (and I think with a provincial utility company sponsorship), Montreal actually ended up “too far into the black”

    What a great problem to have, huh? The Impact had already been in a full-fledged salary way with the then, Rochester Raging Rhinos, so for dudes who have been lured to Montreal it was a case of “the rich getting richer” (USL rich). That was when under the certain circumstances that a guy could make more money taking a contract to play in USL (MLS forbids players from supplementing their incomes by playing indoors during the offseason and the payed fringe players were making between 11.7k-14k per year).

  31. yankiboy permalink
    October 3, 2012

    ^ What would an Ole Yanki Yank post be without a typo? It wouldn’t be a Yanki Yank post.

    “Full-fledged salary WAR.”

  32. Amerisnob permalink
    October 3, 2012

    @Yankiboy

    I did listen to that podcast and it was very informative. But that was even before I made that post.

    I understand that FCE has a huge travel expense that may or may not increase due to the new schedule.

    However, when you have a 1200 seat stadium and you regularly get 1500, it indicates that you can draw at least that much with an expanded stadium.

    Sure 1500 a game isn’t viable, but that 2500 figure for an unglamorous game against the last-place Atlanta in the middle of a long-slog of a season is an inspiring one. One game sample? Well what more can I come up with when there was one game that the stadium was expanded? Was it a coincidence that 1000 more people than normal decided to show up? I think not, and the theory of supply and demand agrees with me.

    So maybe my statement that they could be one of the most financially sound teams in the league was inaccurate BECAUSE of their crazy travel schedule, but either way the stadium is obviously limiting their revenues (which could go toward paying for the crazy travel schedule).

  33. Bart permalink
    October 3, 2012

    A designated not-for-profit entity can indeed enjoy surplus cash, and frankly I don’t know of a not-for-profit entity that does not want their business to show surplus cash, or they cannot survive. The benefit of being a not-for-profit entity is that the surplus cash earnings are tax exempt, meaning they pay no taxes. In return for this benefit, the not-for-profit entities must have some form of governmental approved public purpose in order to enjoy this benefit.

    The surplus cash is not distributed to shareholders (there are none technically) and is invested in the mission business. These entities must take care to run their business in this manner so that the activities are not deem “unrelated business income” by the IRS and then those earnings become taxable.

    I can’t speak for Saputo as Canadian law may be different, but this is US tax law. In San Antonio’s case, I would almost guarantee that Hartman formed a taxable subsidiary within his not-for-profit for the construction of the stadium, so that any earnings off of this would be taxed, but would not jeopardize his 502(c)(3) designation with the IRS.

    So, my little godchildren, Santa Claus does exist and any business, be it for profit or not-for-profit, want revenue to exceed expenses so they have surplus cash at the end of the fiscal year. It is how these surpluses are treated from a tax perspective that is the issue.

    Oh, and lastly, I am pretty sure that King Saputo has made, and continues to make, surplus cash with the Impact.

  34. yankiboy permalink
    October 3, 2012

    @Amerisnob: I hope that the stadium situation improves in Edmonton and that you end up being proven right. I really believe that the last thing that most of who are following the club would ever want to see is a repeat of what took place back in ’04 with the Aviators/Edmonton F.C.

  35. October 4, 2012

    Thanks for the clarification Bart.

  36. Bart permalink
    October 4, 2012

    Now let’s see what other shoe will drop……

  37. Mike permalink
    October 4, 2012

    No, it can’t be!!! How much more can the league take?

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