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.