Columbus Crew lands new owners

An agreement has been reached for the Haslam and Edwards families to assume ownership of Major League Soccer franchise Columbus Crew, ensuring the team’s future in the Ohio city.

The deal will see the Crew’s current owner, Precourt Sports Ventures, surrender control of the team. The Haslam family, which will form part of the new ownership group, also owns NFL American football team the Cleveland Browns.

PSV had considered relocating the Crew to Austin, Texas but this was met with unrest among supporters. Last month, the group reached an agreement with the City of Austin to develop a new 20,000-seat stadium in Texas but this facility will house a new MLS franchise known as Austin FC, and not the Crew. The Crew has also revealed plans for its own new 20,000-seat stadium in Columbus.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “After several months of discussions, we are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families for them to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and operate Columbus Crew SC starting in January, 2019.

“While we work to finalise the deal promptly, we want to state publicly the tremendous collaboration and community support for Crew SC, which has set the stage for a powerful plan that includes a world-class soccer stadium – a critical step that will help ensure the club’s success on and off the field.

“We appreciate all the diligent work from the Haslam and Edwards Families, the leadership from the Columbus Partnership, the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio, Precourt Sports Ventures, and all of those who have contributed over the past several months to create the elements that will solidify Crew SC’s long-term future as an integral part of the Columbus sports scene.”

PSV chief executive Anthony Precourt added: “We are pleased with the lawsuit dismissal and the outcome that will ensure Major League Soccer teams in both Austin and Columbus. This elegant solution is the culmination of many months of hard work from [MLS] Commissioner Garber, the Haslam and Edwards’ families, the local Columbus community, and Precourt Sports Ventures.

“We are happy for the people of Columbus and Crew SC supporters, who helped rally local government and business leaders to keep Crew SC in Columbus. We are proud to have built a strong club which is in position to be successfully transitioned to new operators in 2019.”