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FC Edmonton officially joins Canadian Premier League

FC Edmonton players practice at Clarke Field on Wednesday, April 5 in preparation for their Saturday evening home opener against Jacksonville Armada FC. .
FC Edmonton players practice at Clarke Field on Wednesday, April 5 in preparation for their Saturday evening home opener against Jacksonville Armada FC. . Global News

Professional men’s soccer will return to Edmonton next year, with FC Edmonton officially joining the newly developed Canadian Premier League.

The official announcement was made on Friday at a street party in Old Strathcona.

The league said a supporter-led initiative helped prove the team should be part of the league, and it also resulted in a surge of advanced club memberships.

“Passion and dedication define soccer fans and no supporter group has demanded a club the way that Edmonton has,” CPL commissioner David Clanachan said.

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FC Edmonton was the lone Canadian team in the North American Soccer League and had seen increasing attendance, however, it ceased operations last fall.

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“[The league] would like to wind up being in Edmonton for sure,” FC Edmonton co-owner Tom Fath said in April. “We’ve got some interest in it, and we’ve said that before but it’s going to be something sustainable, of course, and part of that is to have the right facility.”

READ MORE: FC Edmonton folds after 7 seasons in professional soccer

On Friday, the league confirmed FC Edmonton will continue to play at Clarke Stadium. The club will continue talks with the City of Edmonton surrounding upgrades needed at Clarke Stadium in order to comply with CPL standards.

One of the proposed upgrades involves expanding the stadium to a minimum of 7,000 seats. The current seat capacity is 4,153.

“The Fath family is proud to continue the strong tradition of soccer here in Edmonton,” Fath said in a media release on Friday.

“Sport continually brings our entire community together and makes us stronger. We’re thrilled to re-establish our first team, supporting the soccer development pathways that begin with local clubs and academies.”

READ MORE: Expanded Edmonton stadium part of pitch for Canadian Premier League

The team’s crest was also unveiled on Friday. The blue and white shield is derived from the City of Edmonton’s Coat of Arms, which is a symbol of the community’s history and strength. The top of the shield is meant to represent the blue sky of the Prairies, contrasted by the North Saskatchewan River, which is represented in the lower portion of the shield.

Photo courtesy: FC Edmonton

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Last month, the league announced Calgary-based Cavalry FC will play in the CPL. Other teams include York 9 FC, Valour FC and HFX Wanderers. Several other clubs are set to be announced in the coming weeks.

The league is set to debut in the spring of 2019.

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