Ottawa Fury FC, Montreal Impact strike partnership deal
'We are and will remain an independent club,' Fury coach and GM Paul Dalglish says
After weeks of speculation, the Ottawa Fury have announced a partnership with Major League Soccer's Montreal Impact.
The Fury, which announced its departure from the North American Soccer League at the end of the 2016 season, will become the official United Soccer League partner of the Impact.
"This partnership is a fantastic opportunity to grow soccer and comes with both business and technical benefits," said Fury head coach and general manager Paul Dalglish in a statement released Friday morning.
"We are and will remain an independent club. We are proud of our identity and excited for the opportunities that this relationship will provide both of our organizations — including work on the player development pathway."
Some Fury supporters have expressed concern that any affiliation with an MLS club would spell the end of autonomy for Ottawa's team and represent a step backwards for professional soccer in the capital.
An intra-squad match you have to pay to watch √<br>We play Impact players and we look like TFC √<br>Focused Player Development, for another team √—@BlogFuryFC
In addition to the 14 players already under contract with the Fury, the team said Dalglish will work with the Impact to "identify a select group of players that could join the Fury" for the upcoming season.
"Dalglish's work with the Impact will include his attendance at [Montreal's] training camp to evaluate the potential talent," read the statement.
Dalglish took to Twitter after the announcement was made public.
Delighted to start a partnership with <a href="https://twitter.com/impactmontreal">@impactmontreal</a> and work together to continue to grow the game in our market.—@pauldalglish
The USL has become the official feeder league for MLS teams in recent years. Nine MLS clubs own their own teams in USL, while 10 have developed partnerships similar to the one struck by the Fury and the Impact.
Despite the new arrangement, the Fury will still do battle with the Impact and other professional Canadian squads in the annual Amway Canadian Championship.