Things aren’t looking great for Jacksonville Armada FC.
The club’s owner Mark Frisch recently announced that he will transfer ownership over to the North American Soccer League (NASL), the league in which the club has played since its formation a few years ago.
Frisch was very blunt about the financial situation of the Armada, saying that he had simply lost too much money on the venture.
The news came on the heels of rumors in late 2016 of the club’s imminent demise.
The club released five of its players in mid-December. It also eliminated the position of director of broadcasting, previously held by Cole Pepper. These moves were widely reported to be aimed at cutting costs, with some news outlets even falsely reporting that the club had cut all of its players and would fold soon.
The NASL as a whole experienced a similar rotation through the rumor mill around the same time. The league lost four teams at the end of the Fall 2016 season, and with attendance down across the board and rumors of possibility losing Division II status, it was rumored to be approaching financial collapse.
Instead, the club and the league are now guaranteed at least another year to try to make things work.
It will be tough for the league to find a new owner for the Armada. The club doesn’t look like a smart investment right now – nor does the NASL in general.
Any potential buyer will be tasked with turning the club’s on-field performance around – and doing so quickly. The club began its life with intense fan support, but it has since managed only 14 wins in 62 games. This has caused the crowds to gradually thin out.
They’ll also have to overcome the NASL’s limitations – and develop a contingency plan in the event that the league folds.
That being said, there are still a few attractive qualities for a potential Armada FC owner.
The club has a better venue than many Division II soccer clubs, playing its games in the relatively-new Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. It also still does have a passionate fan base and does great things for the Jacksonville community.
It’s clear that Jacksonville is a market in which soccer can thrive – under the right conditions.
It remains to be seen if the league will have better luck finding a buyer than Frisch did. For the sake of the Armada’s future in Jacksonville, let’s hope they do.