(WXYZ) — Detroit officially has a professional soccer team. On Wednesday, the U.S. Soccer Board of Governors gave approval for Detroit City FC (DCFC) to join the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).
- Detroit City FC goes pro by joining National Independent Soccer Association
- Detroit City FC wins inaugural NPSL Members Cup
- Detroit City Football Club launching women's team, playing in United Women's Soccer next year
It comes seven years after the team was launched by five Detroiters and after a successful championship in the inaugural NPSL Members Cup.
In August, the club announced it had planned to go pro by joining NISA, which was given a provisional sanction as a division III league in U.S. Soccer.
"We appreciate the approval from U.S. Soccer. It represents an unimaginable progression that has involved too many people to count – one that started with a neighborhood soccer league rooted in community service and led to Detroit's first professional soccer team in nearly 40 years," DCFC CEO Sean Mann said in a statement.
"We are honored to have these four great clubs join NISA as fully approved clubs. Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, Michigan Stars and Oakland Roots represent everything NISA stands for and are great models for all independent clubs in this country," NISA Commissioner John Prutch added.
DCFC will join Chattanooga FC, the Oakland Roots and Michigan Stars FC as the newest clubs in NISA. All teams will begin league play in the spring of 2020.
Le Rouge has continued to grow every year since its founding 2012. As attendance numbers grew, they moved from Cass Tech High School to Keyworth and renovated the historic Hamtramck Stadium. In September, plans were announced for a women's team.
In a letter to fans in August, Mann and other owners wrote:
"Thanks to your support over the past eight years, Detroit City FC has redefined what a soccer club can be in this country. Whether you invested in the Keyworth campaign or volunteered to rehab the stadium; whether you keep to yourself on the “family side” or stand on top of the capo stand leading the chants; whether you wore the jersey in front of the most dedicated fans in America, or squeeze into your 2012 replica jersey for match day, you are the most dedicated fans in America and you are responsible for our club’s success.
With your support, what started as a community organizing project to bring together neighbors in Detroit is now poised to be Detroit’s first professional soccer team in generations.
Saturday night we host Chattanooga FC for the first-ever competitive match between our like-minded, community-based clubs. This match represents the culmination of everything we’ve built together to date, and everything we will build together in the future, as we kick off the club’s biggest chapter yet.
2019 has been a transition year for the club, as it blended our traditional NPSL season with an extended fall campaign against the best of the best of our league. It has also been a historic season, playing our longest campaign with a committed squad training in a professional setting.
And now, we’re excited to announce that we’ve been accepted to join the National Independent Soccer Association, the new third division of American professional soccer. We’ll be joining old friends like Chattanooga FC and Miami FC, as well as new clubs in major cities across the country.
NISA is sanctioned under the United States Soccer Federation’s professional league standards, which means DCFC will be a fully professional club in a professional league starting in early 2020 (pending a final review of our application by the US Soccer Federation in the near future).
While we’ve been one of the most well-attended and best-supported soccer clubs in the country outside of Major League Soccer, we were required to restructure our existing ownership group to meet USSF’s professional requirements. Those adjustments have been made with the leadership of the club remaining the same as it has been.
This next chapter doesn’t necessarily represent a change for the club, but another step in its continued and unprecedented growth. With this move, you won’t see increases in ticket prices, but you will see players that are able to commit full-time to the club and sport, and compensated appropriately for their talents. You won’t see any massive investment in the club from some anonymous overseas investment group, but you will see continual updates and improvements at Keyworth and the Fieldhouse as we strive to build on the best matchday experience in America. We probably won’t sign any former stars that were once on the cover of FIFA, but you are going to see a roster of players representing the city we love with pride, on a national platform week in and week out.
We started this endeavor with a goal of creating an organization with authenticity and heart, that was from the community, and for the community. Without your support, we would have never gotten this far, and without your continued support, we’ll never know how far we can take this.
We’re going professional in 2020 because we built this together. But we still have some work to do in 2019. We’ll see you at Keyworth on Saturday night as we take on our new league rival.
Thanks for everything,
Detroit City Football Club"