‘We’re up for the challenge’: Pasquel brothers lay out vision for future of York United FC

As conversations were ongoing with the Canadian Premier League about taking over as the owners of York United FC, the Pasquel brothers, Eduardo, Miguel and Ricardo, found themselves faithfully tuning in to OneSoccer to watch each of the club’s games — looking to get an idea of the roster they were hoping to inherit.

While their ownership was still not official at that point, they found themselves heartbroken on Oct. 11 when Pacific FC’s Adonijah Reid scored on essentially the last kick of the game to eliminate York United from the 2023 CPL Playoffs. It is that sort of passion for the sport — which they say will only increase now that they are the owners of the club — that they believe will be central to their success as they look to take the Nine Stripes to new heights.

Back in early May, the brothers first reached out to CPL commissioner Mark Noonan to express their interest in becoming the new owners of York United. Just a few weeks prior, the league had announced that Canadian Soccer Business had purchased the club with the hopes of transferring ownership to a group that could reignite interest in the club based in Canada’s largest metropolitan area.

As discussions continued between the Pasquels and the CPL, excitement grew on both sides that they were the right group to take on that challenge. The brothers visited Canada in early July to take in a match in person and their interest only grew from there. Last week, it was made official.

On Thursday, they met with the media for the first time as their group, Game Plan Sports Group, were unveiled as the new ownership of York United in a press conference at York Lions Stadium. It was an encouraging start for what promises to be a new and exciting chapter for one of the league’s founding clubs.

“We are very excited; this is a dream come true, professional wise. I think for the three of us, this has been the best news ever,” said Miguel Pasquel, who will serve as the club’s Chief Commercial Officer and Head of New Strategy Alliances.

Hailing from Mexico, the Pasquel brothers and their group bring significant connections and expertise within both soccer and business. The sport, after all, runs in the family, as one of their grandfathers played professionally in Liga MX, while both of their grandfathers owned professional sports clubs. Their father, Miguel Sr., was previously the General Secretary of the Mexican Football Federation.

“You’re getting people who have the genetics and genes of football, who love the game first and foremost, but they’re also business people,” said CPL commissioner Mark Noonan as he introduced the brothers on Thursday. “That combination of football and business is really going to serve this club well.”

Also critical, Noonan mentioned, is the active role the brothers will be taking within the club. The Pasquels and their families will be moving to Toronto, with Miguel taking on the aforementioned role as Chief Commercial Officer, Eduardo will serve as CEO and Ricardo will be President and General Manager. This will allow the brothers to be heavily involved in all facets of the club moving forward.

The Pasquel brothers speak to media on Thursday (Photo: David Chant)

“We’ve watched a lot of soccer since we were little kids. Soccer is our passion, we played soccer, we are soccer guys,” said Eduardo Pasquel. “We saw this opportunity to come here to Canada and a great country, world-class country, for the CPL to have a club over here, first started like a dream. Then we [spoke with] Mark [Noonan], we had some talks with the team and everything went pretty well. We wanted to be in the soccer game, we didn’t know what country at first. We knew Canada was an option, and all the stars aligned to make the investment. To live over here with our families was very important for us also. For the team and for the CPL, we really trusted the CPL. We see it as a long-term project and I think we are in great hands.”

They mentioned that there were a number of different factors that made York United an attractive purchase for them, including the upcoming 2026 World Cup, the city of Toronto, and the growing soccer community within the country. The thing that excites them the most, however, is the level of talent that they see within the player pool in this country, and building around that will be a foundational mission of the club going forward.

“Our vision for the future is investing in young Canadian talent, that’s why we are here and I can tell you that’s the most important part of it,” said Ricardo Pasquel. “One of the plans that we’re talking about is how can we be very competitive in every tournament that we’re in, but at the same time having most of the roster being young Canadians. We have to find the correct balance.”

Eduardo Pasquel mentioned the brothers have already spoken to a number of different youth teams within the area as part of their long-term vision to collaborate within the local soccer community and provide opportunities for the region’s young players.

Short term, however, as they said, roster balance means they are in the process of searching far and wide for players who will make this club better next season. That certainly includes using their connections in Mexico, but also across the globe.

“I can tell you we are exploring every option, leagues in Africa, leagues in Asia, Latin America, Europe…if not we wouldn’t be doing a great job,” said Ricardo Pasquel. “Regarding Mexico, I can tell you we have many connections from maybe most of the teams there, so we have already reached out to them. We are going to meet in December, January and February, start building our relationships with them get to know the players and see which players might be good for the CPL going forward.”

He has had long chats with Martin Nash and his staff about the roster plan, and said the first set of announcements regarding the club’s end-of-season roster decisions could be made as early as next week.

They also plan to use those connections when it comes to the club’s preseason training going forward. While the runway might be too short to make such a camp happen this year, in the future they will look to bring York United down south with the potential of playing against not only opposition from Mexico, but also South America and MLS.

As for the club’s current home field, there was also an acknowledgement that while York Lions Stadium was a good facility, it didn’t serve the club’s long-term ambition. As the Pasquels get to work, while there is no official timeline yet, finding a new home for the team will be a daily pursuit.

“We need our own stadium,” said Eduardo Pasquel. “For our fans, for our identity, for everything. We are going to work on it, we are going to see some options, we are going to talk to the fans and the community, get them involved a lot in that decision. We’re going to start working on that.”

As they get to work, however, one area that makes the brothers bullish is where the club is at on the field. After watching from afar as York made the playoffs for just the second time in club history, the brothers are incredibly excited about the talent they have at their disposal and believe the club are ready to take the next step competitively in 2024.

“I think the team has great players, we have probably the best roster in the league. I don’t want to take a shot at Bobby [Smyrniotis] and Forge, but I don’t think it’s going to be as happy for many years to come for them,” said Ricardo Pasquel.

“We are up for the challenge, I can tell you that.”