Three days before what was to be the team’s first home game, Philadelphia Fury CEO Matt Driver told The Inquirer on Wednesday that the team has withdrawn from playing in the new National Independent Soccer Association’s fall exhibition season. The Fury will aim to re-take the field in the spring of 2020, when the NISA launches its first formal campaign.
“We thought it was in the best interest for now for the Fury to sit out the exhibition [season] in the fall,” said Driver, who called the decision “the right thing to do between the league and us right now.”
He added that there are “some other things we’re working through with the league we’ll know [about] in the next day or two.”
One of those things might be about money. Multiple sources said the team has had financial issues this year, and a press release issued by the Fury on Wednesday said an investor in the team recently pulled out.
“[T]he temporary suspension from the Fall 2019 season is due to a last minute reversal from one of its main investors,” the press release said.
Going forward, the Fury "will be working closely with NISA’s leadership in the coming months on the requirements and strategies to replace the investor and it is anticipated the team will be rejoining NISA for the Spring 2020 season and beyond.”
A statement from the NISA’s headqurters in Chicago said: “This is the best decision for the Philadelphia Fury, and the league, as it will allow them time to prepare for Spring league play. The League Office is working closely with the Fury’s Management Team on all player-related contractual obligations. NISA’s leadership will also be working with the club to address shortcomings to resume competition for the Spring 2020 season."
The Fury were to play at Franklin Field, becoming the first professional soccer team to have its home stadium within Philadelphia’s city limits for the first time since 1980. Their home opener was originally scheduled for Sept. 7 against Stumptown Athletic of Charlotte, N.C., but the game was postponed as Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina. The Fury and the NISA said logistical issues resulting from the storm’s arrival forced the postponement.
The NISA is running a short fall season before officially launching in the spring with 10 teams, including three of the country’s best-known lower-league clubs: Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC and Miami FC. They all previously played in the semipro National Premier Soccer League, with Miami having played in past years in the modern-era North American Soccer League.
Other teams in the NISA are located in in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and Irvine, Calif.