By DAN KARELL
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are undergoing an ownership change, but the new owners plan to keep the club in the North American Soccer League.
On Friday morning, the Strikers will announce that the club has sold from Traffic Sports to three Brazilian businessmen – Paulo Cesso, Rafael Bertani, and Ricardo Geromel – according to the Miami Herald. (UPDATE: The club confirmed the news on Friday morning in a press conference.)
Cesso is an education and technology entrepreneur, Bertani had a large education organization in China that sold for more than $700 million, and Geromel is currently a writer for Forbes after working in commodities. Geromel is also a former teammate of U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, when the pair were at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“We see owning the Strikers as a great opportunity,” Geromel told the Miami Herald. “Soccer in the U.S. is already really, really big. Investing in soccer here makes great sense.”
The report states that Geromel, based in Fort Lauderdale, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the club while Cesso and Bertani manage from afar. Managing director Tim Robbie and president Tom Mulroy will remain with the club through the transition, the report adds.
While a host of cities with NASL or USL Pro teams such as Sacramento, San Antonio, and Minneapolis are all angling for a piece of the MLS pie, Geromel says he would rather keep the Strikers in NASL, where they’re more affordable to the local fans.
“We want to turn the Strikers back into a household name,” Geromel said. “We want to create an affordable experience for the fans, and we hope the community will embrace us. This is why we chose NASL instead of investing in an MLS team. An MLS franchise would cost us $100 million, and we felt it was better for us to invest our money in the team itself, be able to sell tickets for $20 and build on the tradition the Strikers already have.”
What do you think of this report? Glad that the Strikers are remaining in NASL? Do you think they can compete with a Beckham-owned MLS club in the general area?
Share your thoughts below.