Victoria Highlanders soccer club has ceased operations

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(ISN) – Numerous reports Saturday indicate the Victoria Highlanders soccer club of the USL’s Premier Development League has ceased operations, and the men’s team, women’s team and youth soccer academy are halted immediately.

The PDL schedule had been due out this coming week.

There is no official statement from the team, on its website, or from the USL-PDL. In fact, as of Saturday night, the team was still offering 2015 season tickets and other packages through its website. There is also no word on refunds for those who have already invested in season tickets or sponsorship packages, or paid for the youth academy.

General manager Mark DeFrias, who formerly worked at the University of Victoria, sent an email to partners earlier Saturday, and owner Alex Campbell Jr. later confirmed the news to CTV Island News.

The club was in existence for six years, and the men’s team’s best season was 2013, with an appearance in the final four. DeFrias was recognized as the league’s executive of the year. The women’s team was undefeated in 2014, while the men’s team finished second in its division at 8-3-3 before being soundly drubbed in a home playoff match.

The first season for the team was 2009.

Campbell told CTV Island News that financial losses, believed to include a debtload in the quarter-million dollar range, led to the decision. Efforts had been going on for up to eight months, Campbell said, to find new ownership or investors, but that recently fell through and caused the conclusion that the only plausible course of action was to cease operations.

The Highlanders played the last few seasons at Royal Athletic Park, where the highly-popular Victoria HarbourCats baseball club of the elite collegiate West Coast League serves as the anchor tenant. The Highlanders earlier played out of Westhills Stadium in Langford, along with holding exhibition matches at Centennial Stadium on the University of Victoria campus. One of those, in 2014, featured famed Rangers FC of Glasgow. Highlanders games at RAP did not draw paying customers at a level that made the operation a viable one.‎ The Highlanders lost significant money each year of existence.