Last night the name of Ottawa’s new NASL team was revealed and it is Ottawa Fury FC. I don’t have a problem with the name of the team or the organization. I think it has a strong foundation and will become a successful football club. My issue is how they arrived at the name. When Ottawa Sport and Entertainment Group (OSEG) announced that they were getting an NASL team and that John Pugh the owner of the Ottawa Fury (USL-PDL & W-League teams) had joined OSEG, I asked John if the new team was going to be called the Fury. He told me that there would likely be fan involvement in picking a new name. He was spot on, there was a website called nameourteams.com where fans were asked to submit ideas for the names of the new NASL team and the CFL team that OSEG had also started. The CFL page mentioned that they were not going to consider either of the two old names Rough Riders or Renegades. The NASL team had no restrictions about the name. Word broke long before the announcement that the team would be an Ottawa team, and not Capital, Bytown, or anything else. So fans new that we were getting an Ottawa team, which is fine I imagine most people would have wondered where the team was from had they been Bytown, as Ottawa’s original non native settlement was called. Last night it was announced that the team had received over 4,000 submissions on the nameourteams website, I don’t think for one minute that they were all usable, but I’m sure there were a few good ones in there. Last night, John Pugh said that none of the submissions could match the Fury and that following the lead of TFC & FC Edmonton they were going to be a football club. Thus Ottawa Fury FC was born.
As I said I don’t have a problem with the name, Ottawa Fury FC, but at the moment that you decide to ask for fan input that name goes off the table. In my opinion, the only way it would be possible for the name Fury to come back is if a significant number of the 4,000 entries asked for it. I can only assume that this did not happen as it would have been announced that the fans wanted the name Fury. If OSEG felt that the 10 year history of the Ottawa Fury with successes in the W-League, USL – PDL, and with player development was something that they couldn’t afford to lose, then don’t have a contest. Announce straight off that the team will be Ottawa Fury FC, and keep the contest for the CFL team only. Having a website called nameourteams when the name was already picked is more than a little disingenuous. Which is why it felt like an own goal to me. I don’t think that I am alone here either, at the announcement the Bytown Boys (Capital City FC’s supporters club who began supporting the Fury after CCFC left the CSL) started singing once the name was revealed and a good thing they did too, as there wasn’t much excitement coming from anyone else. After the announcement I talked with some of the Bytown Boys and the name left them all feeling a bit disappointed as well. They are behind the team, there is no doubt of that, but when the supporters club isn’t excited by the name you’ve chosen, it’s an own goal.
Another announcement that was made last night is that there will be a complete rebranding of the crest and colours for the new Ottawa Fury FC, with fan involvement! Seems like a hollow promise to me, given the way that the name search went. When I got home I went on twitter to see how others had responded to the name. Most of the people I follow ignored it completely given that at the time of the name reveal Canada’s U20 side was playing the USA U20 in a quarterfinal of the CONCACAF U-20 Men’s Championship. Of those that commented on it, I saw one person in favour of keeping the Fury name, a few unhappy with it, and another pointing out that the last professional team called the Fury was in Winnipeg. All in all a fairly underwhelming response from my corner of the twitterverse, which is focused on Canadian Soccer. This morning all of the talk was about the name of the Basketball team that Ottawa is getting. They announced their name yesterday too, the Tomahawks, apparently named after the style of dunk. They have all the press because of the extreme negative reaction from the city. I don’t understand why OSEG would select a night when Canada U20 were playing, thus ensuring that they are not the main soccer story in Canada, and chose the same day as another Ottawa franchise was revealing their name, thus ensuring that the local media spot light is not focused only on them. The name reveal was one big own goal by OSEG. Hopefully for the club all the Fury about the Tomahawks will help people move on from the name debacle and focus on the soccer club which is expected to name its manager shortly.
After the announcement I was able to talk with one of the owners, Bill Shenkman, about player recruitment and also with Bill Peterson, the NASL Commissioner, those interviews can be heard on the upcoming Subs Bench Podcast.