Sacramento Republic FC's move into Major League Soccer (MLS) has been thrown into doubt after the franchise's lead investor, Ron Burkle, quit the project following financial implications from COVID-19.
Sacramento had been announced as the team to join the MLS in October 2019 and was orginally due to join this year, before the pandemic pushed it back to 2022. They currently have a team operating in the United Soccer League (USL).
However Burkle has now opted to step away from the acquisiotn of an expansion franchise having cited financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Burkle's ownership grow were set to invest US$200 million into the expansion fee to make up an estimated US$500 million to US$600 million that investors were ready to push into the project.
A US$300 million stadium was also on the cards but it has yet to have been started, due to the impact of COVID-19, which led to fears that the teams entry into the MLS would have to be put back even further until 2024.
"We understand the feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration – we share in those deeply," said an official statement from Sacramento Republic.
"Today’s announcement is not a reflection of the fans, Sacramento or this club. Republic FC will continue to serve and support this community, true to its mission. As an organisation, we will always represent Sacramento with pride."
The statement added that there is "much more information to come about how we will continue our MLS journey."
Alongside an expansion franchise into the MLS, a proposed Sacramento team for the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) has also been put at risk with Burkle due to to be involved with the team too.
Author: Jake Wilkin