At some point or another, we’ve all been told the old adage of “don’t run away from your problems”. Throughout life, we’re taught that if we take on our problems head on, the outcome will be better and less painful.
For the most part, that rings true. But sometimes, running is the preferred option and the best way to actually face a problem head on. In the case of the National Premier Soccer League’s Cincinnati Saints, it appears that is exactly the case.
Over the last six years of the club’s existence, the Saints have met and overcome a litany of hurdles. Making the jump from a Sunday League team into the semi-professional ranks was the first of those. Then came outmaneuvering a series of in-town competitors. And for the last year, it’s been the slow battle to win over an often indifferent market in the Cincinnati public and media spaces. Small victories have defined the club during that stretch, due in large part to the perseverance of CEO and owner David Satterwhite.
But with the arrival of the USL in town, courtesy of the nascent FC Cincinnati and their billionaire backing, the Saints may have finally reached a hurdle too high to clear.
Despite their six year head start and a steadily growing presence in the Cincinnati soccer community, the Saints resources are realistically no match for the financial might of their new neighbors. Nor can the Saints — playing in a fourth division that’s best known for allowing students athletes a competitive space to play without soiling their collegiate eligibility — match the star power that FCC’s deep pockets can bring to town. They can’t be expected to net a home as “luxurious” as the redeveloped Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati. And the connections to high ranking city officials and people of power in the community boasted by the new USL club are unlikely to develop now that another name with more clout has stormed in to their minds.
Faced with those realities, it was clear the Satterwhite and the Saints had some decisions to make.
Option one is to continue on fighting the good fight, and try to persist with carving out a slice of the Cincinnati market to call their own. While that might be a possibility, it’s probably more likely that the size of the new kid in town would cast a long shadow that would make it very hard to get noticed. The Saints might be able to live on that way for a few more years, but it would ultimately result in a long, drawn out death.
Option two is far more blunt — and dire. The Saints could call it quits. Throw in the towel. Close the curtain. Cease to be. This option, in spite of all of the energy and heart and knowledge gained, could still be on the table.
But there is still a third option available to the club: looking for a new home.