USL News Release
Thursday, September 14, 2006
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced Thursday that it has added a USL Second Division franchise in Bermuda set to begin play in the 2007 season. The addition of Bermuda expands USL’s footprint to four federations with teams currently playing in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico pending the expected approvals of the Bermuda Football Association and CONCACAF.
"The expansion of the USL Second Division into Bermuda is a significant event in the continued growth of USL as a leader in the development of North American soccer,” said USL Vice President Tim Holt.
The Bermuda squad, to be named at a later date, will be comprised primarily of players from the Bermuda National Team which currently ranks 163rd in the FIFA world rankings, serving as a developmental team to raise the quality of play amongst the players.
“Having a professional club team from Bermuda competing against teams from the US on a regular basis is part of an overall plan to improve the standard of football in Bermuda and to improve the competitiveness of the Bermuda National Team,” said co-owner Shaun Goater, arguably one of the best player’s in Bermuda history. “We see a USL team as providing the core of the BNT and would give Bermuda youth a realistic opportunity to play football at the professional level.”
Current professionals from Bermuda include Khano Smith (New England Revolution), John Barry Nusum (Virginia Beach Mariners) and David Bascome (Baltimore Blast).
The founding ownership of the Bermuda franchise is comprised of former English Premier League players Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne, head coach of the BNT, along with successful local businessman Paul Scope, the former head coach of the Bermuda Women’s. Goater has recently concluded a successful professional and international career that included 32 goals in 36 caps for Bermuda and 103 goals in six seasons at Manchester City from 1997-2003 (full bio
). Scope also serves as an assistant to the men’s national team and is involved with the U-20 program that is trying to qualify for the FIFA World Championship in Canada next summer.
Scope’s business background is centered around a respected international insurance and reinsurance brokerage that has offices in Bermuda, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto San Diego and London.
“Collectively, Paul, Shaun, and Kyle possess the necessary skills and abilities to ensure that a competitive team will be put on the field and, just as importantly, that a first-class organization will be established that is active within the soccer and business communities,” said Holt.
The expansion side will play at the National Stadium located in Prospect, which is just outside the capital of Hamilton. The stadium has a capacity of 10,000 and has a field that is known as ‘the carpet’ because of its superb surface and condition. The stadium also features the adjacent National Sports Centre, which also has two full-sized fields.
Located due east of Charlotte, North Carolina, Bermuda is a grouping of hundreds of islands with seven main islands linked by a series of causeways and bridges and is a self-governing British Colony. Bermuda is known for its affluence, boasting one of the highest Gross National Products in the world and full employment among its population of 70,000.
“We learned a lot from the addition of Puerto Rico in the USL First Division as it relates to the unique opportunities and challenges of having a franchise located outside of the continental body of North America. USL and the ownership of the Bermuda franchise are well aware of those challenges and we pleased at their level of commitment in assisting fellow members of the USL Second Division in the areas of travel and accommodation.”
“For a relatively small country, Bermuda produces a disproportionate share of international-quality players and the establishment of a USL professional team will provide a top-level competitive outlet for the country's elite players,” added Holt. “We believe the team will be very competitive in the USL Second Division given the recent success of the Puerto Rico Islanders in the USL First Division.”
Puerto Rico, which ranks below Bermuda at 192 in the FIFA World Rankings, just saw the Islanders reach the USL First Division playoffs in their third season in the league.