-Ed. Note: Dirty South Soccer is proud to have Eric Morrison, owner and general manager of the Georgia Revolution of the National Premier Soccer League write a guest post for us. Below is a message from him in his own words.
In late 2015, some friends and I bought the Georgia Revolution. It’s a semi-professional team that has been playing in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the 4th Division of U.S. Soccer, for six years. When we purchased the team, one of our first decisions was to rename it the Georgia Revolution Football Club. That’s important because the plan is to build an authentically local Club, not just an NPSL team. Many quality adult players in the Atlanta metro area don’t go on to play in college, so playing options are limited. We want the Revs to be the Club these players can join and continue developing. For those with the skill and dedication to make our NPSL team, they have a national platform to display their talents.
We do our best to stay local, but it creates the challenge of finding and developing a Club of mostly local players who can compete nationally. Since the NPSL has a short three month season, Club development is almost impossible. Club is what we’re really talking about. We want to build a true soccer community where players at all levels are dedicated to the Club and feel like they are part of the Revs family.
Now all of that is great, but the reality is that we still need to find a way to consistently win in the NPSL and hopefully one day win the National Championship. To do this, we knew we needed to create a Reserve Program. Our first attempt was only mildly successful. During the 2016 NPSL season, we had reserve players that trained and played a few games. There were plenty of talented players training with the reserves, most were college kids who had played high level youth Club soccer and were only available in the summer. The problem was that it all felt chaotic with no real purpose other than having an extra pool of players and wasn’t going to transform the Georgia Revolution into a Club.
The Reserve Program needed better organization if we were going to reach our goal, but how could we do that? The solution came in the form of the Atlanta District Amateur Soccer League. After over 45 years of continuous play, the ADASL is the oldest and most prestigious amateur league in the Metro Atlanta area and is affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). It’s a Pro/Rel league consisting of twenty-two teams in two divisions with aspirations of growing a third and gaining USASA Elite League status for its top division. Teams play October through April, making it a good fit for our newly formed Revs Reserves.
The Revs Reserves are a combination of new players, 2016 reserve players, and a few of the non-college players from our NPSL team. The NPSL players add skill, leadership and experience; all of which significantly improve game play and practices, resulting in better player development and team cohesion. It also gives them somewhere to play and train in the long NPSL off season. These players identify themselves as Revs and are the foundation of the Club we’re trying to build.
Something that sets the Revs Reserves apart from most ADASL teams is professional coaching. Our Head Coach is Scott Redding, he is also a member of our NPSL coaching staff and a six year veteran player of the Revs NPSL team. He has two nationally licensed assistant coaches to help him out. The coaching staff conducts one practice per week with the team.
At tryouts, Scott let all the players know that because we are the Revs, the expectations for the team and players are very high. This simple statement set the tone for the season and motivated most of the players to work hard and approach the season like professionals. The general rule is no practice equals no play. We are reasonable about this because players do have work conflicts and shouldn’t be penalized for occasionally missing a practice. We also understand this isn’t for everyone but for players who can commit to the Club, they not only receive outstanding training, they also become part of the Revs family.
We all know soccer isn’t free so let’s see the numbers:
ADASL Admin Fees: $300
Ref Fees ($100 x 18 games): $1800
Registration ($55 x 25 players): $1375
Perrin Cup Registration: $100
Field Rental: $500
Training Equipment: $0
The Perrin Cup is an Inter-League tournament played throughout the season. Thanks to the Henry County Soccer Association, our field costs are very manageable. Our coaches are player-coaches so I waived player fees (more on that later) for the three member coaching staff and gave gas money to our head coach. We already had uniforms and training equipment from the NPSL team. If you’re a new team coming into the ADASL you likely won’t have a professional coaching staff but you will need uniforms so a good cost estimate is $5000-6000, depending on field rental cost.
Player Fees ($150 x 22): $3750
Tryouts Fees ($25 x 24): $600
As you can see we have a small loss based on our budget. To minimize this we sell limited concessions and merchandise at home games so by the end of the season, we’re hoping to have a little extra to put back into the Club.
By comparison, our fee of $150/player is about half of what most players in the ADASL pay. Although we were initially hesitant to charge players, it was the right decision. The players are invested in the Club and take responsibility.
Regarding Tryout fees, we kept these fees low and used them to reduce player cost. Any player who was on our roster in 2016 didn’t have to pay since they already paid for tryouts in the spring. Revs Reserves tryouts were in early September. Six NPSL rostered players and four reserves returned leaving room for fifteen new players. Tryouts went surprisingly well and we found enough quality players to fill the roster.
We don’t charge for tickets. Nobody else in the ADASL charges and we didn’t want to be the first. There was also a marketing side to this. We wanted to grow the Georgia Revolution FC brand in the area and thought since we were playing at a soccer complex, kids and their families would watch once the kids finished playing their games if it was free.
Sponsorship is another source of revenue to help with your financials. Since joining the ADASL was a last minute decision for the Revs Reserves, we didn’t have the time to find sponsors. We are still looking though... any takers?
The Season So Far:
Entering the ADASL, our goals were not so modest: Promotion to 1st Division and to win the Perrin Cup. In our first five minutes in the league we gave up two goals... was this an indicator of how the season would go? Thankfully not! We went on to win that game and near the halfway point of the season we are unbeaten after seven games and sitting at the top of the division with 19 points. The second round of the Perrin Cup is in February and we’ll need four wins to bring home the Cup.
We’ve gained hundreds of new followers on social media and the beginning of a fan base for the Revs Reserves. We get about 30 or so fans at our games, mostly friends and family of the players with a few kids and parents coming over to see what’s going on. As word gets out, we’re hoping to have a few more fans at the games to cheer on the team. We’ve also identified several talented players who will compete for spots on our NPSL roster. Most importantly, it has been lots of fun.
Establishing a Club Playing Philosophy is one of our goals. The Club has recently designated a technical director to oversee player development. The goal is for the Revs to have a playing philosophy and training program that both supports player development and increases the competitiveness of the Club at the national level. We will also add one to two additional training sessions per week for our ADASL team to accelerate development.
Next fall, the Revs Reserves will enter into the qualifiers for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This will be very exciting and challenging for our players and the Club.
To see how things are going for the Georgia Revolution FC and the ADASL, follow us both on social media:
www.georgiarevolutionfc.com – you’re already here so spend some time to get to know the players and help support the team by visiting the fan shop
www.adasl.com – keep up to date on league stuff
Facebook: Georgia Revolution FC and ADASL
twitter: @Ga_Revolution and @adasl_soccer
The motivation for this article came at the request of Non-League America (@NonLeagueUSA) after fellow NPSL owner Dennis Crowley (@Dens) began to chronicle his experience as a new D4 owner. Thank you both for the inspiration.