After years keeping the franchise afloat, Michael Vandale has resigned as chairman and owner of the Calgary Storm. Vandale, who\'s been majority owner of the organization since it started a professional team three years ago, handed the club\'s operations over to the United Soccer Leagues yesterday to find new ownership for the A-League squad.
\"The team is sort of on hold for the next few days,\" said USL\'s chief of operations David Askinas. \"They\'re on a break (from games) and don\'t play until next Wednesday. We\'re optimistic we\'ll be able to complete a deal by then.
\"Our hope is we\'ll have a seamless transition into a new ownership group without the league becoming involved. If things need to be taken care of, the league will deal with them, on behalf of the new ownership group.\"
Vandale, who says he\'s lost $1 million operating the team, cites personal reasons for leaving the team but feels he\'s taken the Storm to a certain level and that someone else will have a better chance to make the necessary improvements the team needs.
The first issue upgrading Foothills Athletic Park, which is one of the smallest stadiums in the A-League.
\"In order to get things to a head, this is really what had to be done,\" Vandale said.
\"It was tough but really, right now, the franchise is here and it\'s important to keep it here. They need a new venue -- I\'ve said that since the start -- and I don\'t think anybody would dispute that.
\"Maybe the new ownership will have better luck dealing with the city. That\'s the biggest issue of all.\"
With a A-League franchise in Edmonton slated to begin play next season, the USL needs the Calgary franchise to keep operating for a regional rivalry.
The USL is speaking with two separate local groups in the hopes of having new management in place by the time the Storm leaves for a three-week road trip starting Wednesday in Seattle.
Calgary has a 4-10-2 record this season
The team won only four games last season.
The Storm has played competitive soccer lately and crowds at Foothills have grown accordingly.
Nearly 2,000 spectators showed up for the Canada Day matchup against the Toronto Lynx, which Calgary lost 2-0.
Head coach Tommy Wheeldon said rumours of the management change have dogged the players for a couple of weeks and the change could bring some enthusiasm to the team, especially if the new owners can bring in some fresh talent.
Although he wasn\'t shocked by the announcement of Vandale leaving, he certainly wasn\'t happy about not having the soccer enthusiast who was willing to put his money on the line.
\"I\'m disappointed to be losing Michael because he\'s been fabulous to me,\" Wheeldon said.
\"Michael has been the only one prepared to put money into professional soccer (in Calgary) and he\'s got to be commended for that.\"