Relocation of professional sports teams

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See also: Expansion team

Relocation of professional sports teams is a practice which involves a sporting franchise moving from one metropolitan area to another, although occasionally moves between municipalities in the same conurbation are also included. Professional teams in North America are generally privately owned and operate according to the wishes of an owner, making this practice much more common there than in other areas of the world where sporting teams are clubs owned by local members.

Franchise relocations in North America[edit]

Background[edit]

Unlike most professional sport systems worldwide, sports organizations in North America generally lack a system of promotion and relegation in which poorly performing teams are replaced with teams that do well in lower-level leagues. North America lacks comprehensive governing bodies whose authority extends from the amateur to the highest levels of a given sport. Unlike in other countries, where one may invest in a local lower-level club and through performance see that club rise to major league status, the only three ways a North American city can host a major league sports team are through league expansion, forming/joining a rival league or, most commonly, relocation.

A city wishing to get a team in a major professional sports league can wait for the league to expand and award new franchises. However, as of 2013 each of the major leagues has 30 or 32 franchises. Many current owners believe this is the optimal size for a major league, and with the possible exception of the NFL's desire to return to Los Angeles, North America's second largest market, none of the major leagues are believed to be imminently considering expansion, and in fact Major League Baseball actually considered contraction in 2002 to be effective for the 2007 season (of the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins), until the sport's players union sued Major League baseball to prevent the dissolution of the teams. In the end, nothing happened to the Twins, who had the issue of their contraction, a new stadium, resolved with the opening of Target Field in 2010, and the Expos relocated to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals.

In past decades, aspiring owners whose overtures had been rejected by the established leagues would respond by forming a rival league in hopes that the existing major league will eventually agree to a merger, the new league will attain major league status in its own right and/or the established league is compelled to expand. The 1960s American Football League is perhaps the most recent example of a successful rival league, having achieved each of the three goals listed above in reverse order. However, all major sports have had a rival league achieve at least some of these goals in the past five decades. Baseball's proposed Continental League did not play a game, but only because Major League Baseball responded to the proposal by adding teams in some of the proposed CL cities. The American Basketball Association and World Hockey Association each succeeded in getting some of their franchises accepted into the established leagues, which had both unsuccessfully attempted to cause their upstart rivals to fold outright by adding more teams.

However, these upstart leagues owed their success in large part to the reluctance of owners in the established leagues to devote the majority of their revenues to player salaries and also on sports leagues' former reliance primarily on gate receipts for revenue. Under those conditions, an ambitious rival could often afford to lure away the sport's top players with promises of better pay, in hopes of giving the new league immediate respect and credibility from fans. Today, however, established leagues derive a large portion of their revenue from lucrative television contracts that would not be offered to an untested rival. Also, the activism of players' unions has resulted in the established leagues paying a majority of their revenues to players, thus the average salary in each of the big four leagues is now well in excess of $1 million per season.

Under present market and financial conditions, any serious attempt to form a rival league in the early 21st century would likely require hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in investment and initial losses, and even if such resources were made available the upstart league's success would be far from guaranteed, as evidenced by the failure of the WWF/NBC-backed XFL in 2001. Not even at any point since the start of the 1980s have any of the established leagues so much as added expansion teams while a rival was operating (or establishment of a rival league was being seriously considered). Therefore, so long as leagues choose not to expand and/or reject a city's application, the only realistic recourse is to convince the owner(s) of an existing team to move it (or convince a prospective owner to purchase a team with the intent of moving it).

Owners usually move teams because of weak fan support or the team organization is in debt and needs an adequate population for financial support or because another city offers a bigger local market or a more financially lucrative stadium/arena deal. Governments may offer lucrative deals to team owners to attract or retain a team. For example, to attract the National Football League's Cleveland Browns in 1995, the state of Maryland agreed to build a new stadium and allow the team to use it rent-free and keep all parking, advertising and concession revenue. (This move proved so unpopular in Cleveland that the move was treated as the Baltimore Ravens being awarded an expansion franchise, while the Browns name and their official lineage would remain in Cleveland for a "reactivated" team founded in a few years later.) A little more than a decade earlier, the Baltimore Colts left for Indianapolis (NFL owners voted to give Colts owner Robert Irsay permission to move his franchise to the city of his choosing after no satisfactory stadium would be built), having literally sneaked away after the Maryland legislature passed a bill threatening to seize the team.

The relocation of sports teams is often controversial. Opponents criticize owners for leaving behind faithful fans and governments for spending millions of dollars of tax money on attracting teams. However, since sports teams in the USA are generally treated like any other business under antitrust law, there is little sports leagues can do to prevent teams from flocking to the highest bidders (for instance the Los Angeles Rams filed suit when the other NFL owners initially blocked their move to St. Louis which caused the NFL to back down allowing that relocation to proceed). Major League Baseball, unique among the major professional sports leagues, has an exemption from antitrust laws won through a Supreme Court decision but nonetheless has allowed several teams to change cities. Also recently, courts had denied the attempted relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes by siding with the National Hockey League which claimed that it had final authority over franchise moves.

Newer sports leagues tend to have more transient franchises than more-established, "major" leagues, but in the mid-1990s, several NFL and National Hockey League teams moved to other cities, and the threat of a move pushed cities with major-league teams in any sport to build new stadiums and arenas using taxpayer money. Critics referred to the movement of teams to the highest-bidding city as "franchise free agency."

List of relocations[edit]

The following charts list movements of franchises in the modern eras of the major North American sports leagues. It does not include:

  • Moves within a city, which have occurred many times in all major leagues.
  • Short distance moves from one city in a metro area to another city in the same metro area. (For example, San Francisco to Oakland.)
  • Short-distance city-suburb moves. (For example, Los Angeles to Anaheim, both of which are in the same urban agglomeration.) However, two moves of a basketball franchise within the New York metropolitan area are listed because the team involved dramatically changed its primary market within the area.
  • Team moves that happened before the organization joined its current league.
  • Moves of teams that as of 2014 no longer exist. There were many such moves in the early years of the NFL in particular.
  • Teams that have threatened relocation as leverage for a new stadium or arena in their current market without actually moving, as well as teams that nearly moved for other reasons not related to team dissatisfaction in a given market. (For example, the Pittsburgh Pirates nearly moving to Denver, Colorado following the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985.)

Major League Baseball[edit]

National Basketball Association[edit]

Note: This list also contains one franchise relocation in the American Basketball Association prior to the ABA–NBA merger. This is marked with an italic year date.

National Football League[edit]

Note: This list also contains franchise relocations in the American Football League prior to the AFL–NFL merger. These are marked with italic year dates.

National Hockey League[edit]

Relocations in the NHL have been unique in that most of the teams have changed their names after relocating, as opposed to keeping their identity with the old market. Only two NHL teams that relocated—both in the pre-Original Six era and in the modern era—kept their names: the Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars. Although the Stars were previously known as the Minnesota North Stars, the team had begun to phase "North" out of the name two years before the move to Dallas as part of the "reverse merger" of the North Stars into the Minnesota Stars and the expansion San Jose Sharks (the California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons had "merged" with Minnesota).

The Edmonton Oilers nearly relocated in 1998 but they remained in the city after a limited partnership raised enough money to purchase the franchise before the deadline.[3] The then-Phoenix Coyotes were placed into bankruptcy with the intent to circumvent the league's relocation rules, but this was blocked by a judge. Other relocation threats came from two of the 1967 expansion teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins (on multiple occasions) and St. Louis Blues (in 1983), but ultimately stayed in their existing markets.

Arena Football League[edit]

Major League Soccer[edit]

  • 2006: The San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston and became the Houston Dynamo; however, the team records, logo, colors, championships and history were left in San Jose. An option for an MLS franchise was awarded to Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff in 2006, and the option was exercised in 2007. The Earthquakes resumed play in MLS in 2008 as a continuation of the previous Earthquakes franchise.

United Soccer Leagues[edit]

Austin Aztex FC of the USL First Division and USSF Division 2 Professional League (both of which were former second-tier levels of the United States soccer pyramid) were relocated to Orlando in October, 2010,[4] and became Orlando City SC Club owner Phil Rawlins, a board member of Stoke City F.C. in England,[5] cited problems finding sufficient investors in Austin.[6] Brendan Flood, majority owner of England's Burnley F.C.,[6] had wanted to establish a new soccer club in Florida, and decided to pair with Rawlins as co-owners.[7] Less than one year after the relocation to Orlando, Austin Aztex were reborn in the fourth-division USL Premier Development League, when David Markley (founder and minority owner of the previous Aztex) re-established the club.[8]

Women's National Basketball Association[edit]

Women's Professional Soccer[edit]

The league, started in 2009, saw its first major relocation before the 2011 season. The former Washington Freedom, which previously played in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., was purchased by Dan Borislow, founder of the VoIP company magicJack, and moved to Boca Raton, Florida. The team played as magicJack in the 2011 season, which was marked by near-constant conflict between the league and Borislow. WPS terminated the franchise after that season. The fallout from a subsequent legal battle between WPS and Borislow, combined with major financial losses, led the league to disband in 2012.

Canadian Football League[edit]

The Baltimore Stallions moved to Montreal in 1996 to become the Montreal Alouettes. When the Cleveland Browns announced that they would relocate to Baltimore, the Stallions recognized that they could not compete with it and relocated to Montreal where it assumed the defunct Montreal Alouettes' name along with its records, history and traditions. Although cosmetic rather than substantive, the CFL officially considers the modern Alouettes to be a continuation of the previous Alouettes team in an effort to distance itself from the American expansion experiment of which the Stallions were members and to keep the Alouettes' legacy viewed collectively. The current Alouettes do not consider the Stallions' legacy, including its Grey Cup victory, as part of the team's current legacy, even though the two teams never played concurrently. The only other team to relocate in the CFL's history was the Sacramento Gold Miners, another American team, who moved to become the San Antonio Texans in 1995. The staff of the Ottawa Rough Riders moved from Ottawa to Shreveport, Louisiana to become the Shreveport Pirates in 1993, but the CFL forced the team itself to be left in Ottawa, where a new owner kept the franchise alive.

Outside of the American expansion, the CFL has never relocated any of its core Canadian franchises from one market to another.

Team relocation in Europe[edit]

In Europe, this sort of move is very rare. This is due to the different relationship between clubs and their league in the European system of professional sports league organization. In most sports, teams can be relegated from their current league down to a lower one, or promoted up a league to the one above.

Cyprus[edit]

Several clubs in Cyprus were forced to move due to the 1974 Turkish invasion of that country:

France[edit]

In France, Red Star Olympique merged with Toulouse FC (1937), but Toulouse FC disappeared and a new Toulouse FC was re-formed later.

Germany[edit]

While football club relocation has so far been unusual in West German football, it was a rather common practice in communist East Germany. As teams were dependent on the regime, it intervened several times to promote an equal distribution of teams across the country. A number of prominent East German teams were affected by these political moves, and even in modern-day Germany, the reason for the regional dominance of some teams and the roots of many strong rivalries can be found there.

Major relocations in the DDR-Oberliga:

  • In 1954, the entire team of Empor Lauter, a club from a small industrial town in southern Saxony, were relocated to the very north of the country to compete as Empor Rostock. Under the name Hansa Rostock, they have been the most successful East German team since 1990.
  • Also in 1954, Dynamo Dresden lost all its players to the newly formed side of Dynamo Berlin. Dresden passed almost a decade in the lower leagues, returned to top-level football in 1962 and became one of the fiercest rivals of by-then record champion Dynamo Berlin.
  • Vorwärts Frankfurt (Oder) was the only major team to be relocated twice. Founded as Vorwärts Leipzig in 1951, the team was moved to East Berlin in 1953, where they won six East German championships. They became Vorwärts Frankfurt in 1971 and were renamed to FFC Viktoria in 1991.

In recent times, team relocation has become a more common feature in sports that are less popular with the German public. Notable examples include former ice hockey team München Barons (became the Hamburg Freezers in 2002), former handball side VfL Bad Schwartau (became HSV Handball in 2002) and basketball club Bayer Giants Leverkusen (Düsseldorf Giants since 2008).

Italy[edit]

Football club relocation is also present in practice in Italy, especially at lower levels. Current Italian football laws allow relocation of clubs only between bordering cities. Some examples of current football clubs born as relocation of previous ones include:

  • In 2004, after Cosenza Calcio 1914 was not admitted to Serie B, a new ownership bought sports rights from then-Serie D club Castrovillari in order to permit a Cosenza franchise to play football in the upcoming season. The new club however proved to be short-lived, as it declared bankruptcy in 2007, but was promptly replaced by Fortitudo Cosenza, born as relocation of neighbouring Serie D club Rende Calcio.
  • Serie D's Neapolis, located in Naples, was born as a relocation of Sangiuseppese, a club hailing from the neighbouring city of San Giuseppe Vesuviano.
  • In 1994, one year after the cancellation of Calcio Catania, Atletico Leonzio's chairman Franco Proto relocated his club, renaming it Atletico Catania. The club, previously located in Lentini, went on to play up to Serie C1 (the league now known as Lega Pro Prima Divisione), losing promotion to Serie B on playoffs twice before being cancelled in 2001 because of financial difficulties also related to Calcio Catania's return into professional football and the consequent drop in attendance.

More recent examples include A.C.D. Città di Vittoria, born in 2007 as merger of Serie D's Comiso with minor league club Junior Vittoria (possibly a trick in order to allow the club to legally relocate from Comiso to Vittoria). A.S.D. Pol. Libertas Acate of Serie D are a club officially settled in Acate, which however actually plays their home matches in Modica and are recognized by both fans and the regional press as Modica's club, being frequently referred to as Libertas Acate-Modica. In fact, after a takeover bid in 2006 the club left Acate to play their home matches in Modica despite the fact they were not eligible to change the "legal" home city.

Relocation has also occurred in Italian basketball. Before the 2010–11 season, Triboldi were legally domiciled in Soresina, but played their home games in nearby Cremona, a community in the same province. The club has now changed its domicile to Cremona. Nuova Sebastiani Basket moved from Rieti, a city in the Lazio region near Rome, to the southern city of Naples effective with the 2009–10 season.

Ireland[edit]

Irish clubs relocating out of their original district are slightly more common. In certain cases, the club has moved within a conurbation.

  • Shamrock Rovers Played in Glenmalure Park on the Southside of Dublin from 1926 to 1987. The club's owner Louis Kilcoyne announced he was selling Glenmalure Park, which they had recently purchased from the Jesuits.[9] The team played the entire 1987–88 season in an almost empty Tolka Park on Dublin's Northside as a result of a boycott called for by the Shamrock Rovers Supporters Club and KRAM (Keep Rovers At Milltown),[9] which was observed by the vast majority of Hoops fans.[10] Following the completion of the boycott season in Tolka, the Kilcoynes sold the football club to Dublin businessman, John McNamara, who put forward a controversial proposal to move in with Rivals Bohemians at Dalymount Park. KRAM congregated to vote on whether to lift the boycott and on the proposal to move to Dalymount. Both motions were passed and the club spent the next two seasons at the Phibsboro venue, with an unrecognisable side playing in front of small attendances.[11] Rovers spent two season's in Dalymount Park before moving to the RDS Arena in Ballsbridge, just two miles away from Glenmalure Park. In 1996 the club's new owner Alan McGrath unveiled a plan to build a permanent home state-of-the-art stadium in the Dublin southwest suburb of Tallaght for Rovers,[12] The club also played home matches in Morton Stadium, Richmond Park and again in Tolka Park before moving to their new home in Tallaght in 2009.
  • Shelbourne were originally from Ringsend in the South of Dublin. The club played in Harold's Cross Stadium in Harold's Cross briefly in the 1970s before moving to the stadium in 1982 where they remained until 1989 when they moved to Tolka Park, in the North of Dublin.

Moldova[edit]

FC Tiraspol was founded in Chisinau in 1992 as Constructorul Chisinau. Before the 2001-02 season, the club relocated to Cioburciu, Transnistria, a small village outside Tiraspol, and was renamed Constructorul Cioburciu before moving to Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway republic of Transnistria, a year later and adopting the current name in 2002.

Netherlands[edit]

Team relocation is very rare in the Netherlands. The most prominent case involves professional football club Almere City FC. When 1964 Eredivisie champion and 1964-65 European Cup quarter finalist Door Wilskracht Sterk was merged into FC Amsterdam, its supporters founded amateur football club De Zwarte Schapen, named after their nickname, which translates as Black Sheep. The club quickly rose through the ranks of amateur football, eventually reaching the Hoofdklasse. After several violent incidents on the pitch and a six-month suspension by the Royal Dutch Football Association, the club moved from Amsterdam to nearby Almere (a "new town") and changed its name to Sporting Flevoland. That name was changed to FC Omniworld in the 1990s, and FC Omniworld was admitted to the Eerste Divisie for the 2005-06 season.

Team relocation is slightly more common in other sports in the Netherlands. Volleyball club AMVJ, for instance, moved from Amsterdam to Amstelveen in 1980. The men's team was subsequently relocated to Almere in 1999, becoming Omniworld.

Norway[edit]

Team relocation is rare, although mergers, for instance of teams of neighboring settlements, are common. Relocation has sometimes happened on the top level of women's football. SK Sprint-Jeløy was moved from Jeløy to Moss under the new name FK Athene Moss. Asker Fotball's women's team was absorbed by Stabæk Fotball ahead of the 2009 season. Ahead of the 2010 season Team Strømmen FK (which formerly had been moved from Aurskog-Høland) was absorbed by Lillestrøm SK, and Gjøvik FK absorbed by Raufoss IL.

Poland[edit]

  • Olimpia Poznań was moved from Poznań and merged with Lechia Gdańsk in 1995 creating Lechia/Olimpia Gdańsk. It only lasted one season in the top division and by 1997 it was already in the third division. The club tried to rescue its fall through another merger with local club Polonia Gdańsk, in turn dropping Olimpia's heritage and changing its name to Lechia/Polonia Gdańsk, with Antoni Ptak's company as the main sponsor. In 2001 Lechia decided to leave the merger, and started as an independent club from the bottom of the football pyramid as the sole legal and spiritual continuator of BKS Lechia, which folded the merged club in 2002, forcing Polonia to start in a lower league as well.
  • Pogoń Szczecin in 2002 was on the brink of bankruptcy. As a result fans created a new team on the basis of the reserves in the fourth division. However owner of Piotrcovia Piotrków Trybunalski Antoni Ptak decided to move the team and renamed the club MKS Pogoń Szczecin. The initial distrust was lost when the team performed well and used local players, however halfway through the 2005/2006 season the team started underperforming and Ptak decided to replace almost the entire squad with only Brazilian nationals, making it the "most Brazilian team outside Brazil". Antoni Ptak also built a small training facility in Gutów Mały, meaning the home games were played almost 500 km away from Szczecin. The experiment failed and in 2007 Antoni Ptak moved away from football, leaving the club to be rebuilt on the basis of the 4th division counterpart set up originally by the fans, which acted as the reserve team in the meantime.
  • Sokół Pniewy was moved to Tychy and merged with the local club GKS Tychy, which resulted in unorthodox renaming, first to Sokół Pniewy in Tychy, then from 9 January 1996 Sokół Tychy. After 26 games in its 2nd season the new fused club folded, leaving the reserve team Sokół Pniewy in the fourth division to become the its senior team, whereas GKS Tychy started anew.
  • WKS Zawisza Bydgoszcz was founded in Koszalin, however a year later in 1947, being an army club, when the army offices moved to Bydgoszcz so did the team, however up until that point the team only played friendly matches.[13][13]
  • Zawisza Bydgoszcz SA was a club that was created when Kujawiak Włocławek were moved to Bydgoszcz and renamed by Hydrobudowa, their owners. The original WKS Zawisza Bydgoszcz continued playing in the fourth division.,[14] however the new club had a very similar logo and an identical name, resulting in an unusual situation of having two almost identical clubs playing in 2 different divisions; for the purposes disambiguation, the new merged Zawisz was called Zawisza Bydgoszcz (2) by official sources and Kujawiak/Zawisza or Hydrobudowa Bydgoszcz by many others. As a result of the merger, Kujawiak, Zawisza and supporters all over the country boycotted the relocated team.[15] The reserve team continued to play under the name Kujawiak Włocławek in the Fourth Polish league. The club folded in 2007[16] as a result of serious corruption allegations[17] and widespread condemnation.[18]

Romania[edit]

Russia[edit]

Team relocation in football is rare if not nonexistent. However, one current top-level basketball team has moved twice in the 2000s. The club founded in 1946 as Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody moved in 2003 to Rostov-on-Don, and then in 2008 to Krasnodar, where it is now known as Lokomotiv-Kuban. All three of the club's home cities are in adjoining federal subjects.

Slovakia[edit]

In 2011, the Kontinental Hockey League, based in Russia but also including teams from several other post-Soviet states, expanded outside the former Soviet Union for the first time, adding the Slovakian team Lev Poprad. The team was purchased by Czech interests after the 2011–12 season; the new owners folded the club and replaced it with a similarly named team, the Prague-based Lev Praha. Although the two Lev teams are technically separate corporate entities, this situation can be viewed as an effective relocation; not only are the team names similar, but the new owners retained much of the Poprad roster.

Spain[edit]

Again, team relocation in Spain is highly unusual. However, at the end of the 2006–2007 season Segunda División side Ciudad de Murcia was acquired by an investor from Granada, transferring it to that city and renaming it to Granada 74 CF. The players still under contract with Ciudad had the option to cancel their contract or stay on with the newly formed club.

Also, the Club Balonmano Ciudad Real (Handball team of Ciudad Real), the second best team ever in handball history in Spain, and winner of the Super Globe in 2007 and 2010, couldn't get a sponsor and had no enough support for maintain a high level team. Team was sold in 2011 to Club Atlético de Madrid and renamed to Club Balonmano Atlético de Madrid. Despite winning 2012 World Championship in their first year with the new owners, and other national titles, they couldn't afford debts, and team disappeared in 2013.[19]

Sweden[edit]

Team relocation in Sweden is very unusual. However two clubs from the capital Stockholm have changed municipality (AIK) and acquired another team into their club colors (Hammarby Ishockey) respectively. AIK was formed in Stockholm in 1891 but then moved to neighbouring Solna in 1937. Hammarby IF had an ice hockey section that was shut down in 2008. In 2013 the club Bajen Fans Hockey then changed their name to Hammarby ishockey,[20] thereby becoming one of very few clubs in Sweden that have acquired another club and made it their own.

Switzerland[edit]

In Switzerland only one "relocation" is happened so far. The Zurich based football Club Grasshoppers Club Zürich moved from Zurich City to Niederhasli. "Die Neue Grasshopper Fussball AG" moved their headquarters in 2005 to Niederhasli. The addition of Zurich was remained in the club's name and the fanion team is still playing in the city of Zurich at Letzigrund (actually the home stadium of their old rival FC Zurich). All other teams of the club are playing Niederhasli. The fans of Grasshoppers Club weren't amused about the move to Niederhasli, in their eyes the club has lost the identity.

Turkey[edit]

Süleymaniye Sirkeci was founded in 1912 and had black-white colors. The club played in the old Third Division (now TFF Second League) before relocating to Küçükçekmece at the end of the 1989-90 season. It was renamed as "Küçükçekmecespor" and changed its colors to green-white.

Beyoğlu Kapalıçarşı was founded in 1983 in Beyoğlu district. The club moved to Güngören one and was renamed as Güngören Belediyespor after the end of the 1993-94 season.

United Kingdom[edit]

Football[edit]

  • 2002: Airdrie United F.C. took over Clydebank F.C. and played their games at Airdrie following the earlier liquidation of Airdrieonians, though the club was founded as a continuation of Airdrieonians and did not take over Clydebank until after their application for the old Airdrie club's league place was refused. As a result, Airdrie United were placed in Division Two for the 2002–03 season, taking the place that would have been occupied by Clydebank. A year later, the Clydebank fans founded a new club, bearing the same name.
  • In Northern Ireland, Belfast based Distillery FC were homeless for many seasons in the 1970s sharing grounds with other clubs until settling in Lisburn, later adding the town's name to theirs, now known as Lisburn Distillery F.C.

Several examples of relocation in the UK focus on the phenomenon of New Towns, built to cope with the shortage of housing following the Second World War. Many of these towns had large populations, but lacked professional football teams due to their age. Also, some clubs that did not move changed their names to reflect the creation of nearby new towns.

  • Clyde F.C. moved from Shawfield Stadium (near Rutherglen in the south east of Glasgow) to the new town of Cumbernauld in 1994. They had been evicted from Shawfield in 1986. By 1990, Clyde secured an agreement to build a home of their own in the new town of Cumbernauld, which had grown in population and was by 1990 one of the larger settlements in Scotland without senior football. They were homeless from 1986 until Broadwood Stadium was built in Cumbernauld in 1994. The move allowed Clyde to continue as a semi-professional club.
  • Wellington Town never relocated, but changed its name in 1969 to Telford United, after the new town of Telford (formed in 1963) was expanded to include the club's home of Wellington. The club went into administration and was dissolved in 2004, but was re-founded the same year as A.F.C. Telford United.

Other examples of relocation out of the original district are slightly more common. In certain cases, the club has moved within a conurbation:

  • Arsenal was founded at Woolwich in 1886. But In 1889, Woolwich became part of London, with the formation of London County Council. Arsenal moved from Woolwich in south London to Highbury in north London in 1913. They moved again to Holloway, a neighbourhood adjacent to Highbury, in 2006, though this was a much shorter distance than they had moved when relocating 93 years earlier, and kept the club in the London Borough of Islington.
  • Manchester United were founded (as Newton Heath) in the Manchester neighbourhood of Newton Heath in 1878, and moved within the city to Clayton in 1893. After adopting the Manchester United name in 1902, they moved just outside the city to Stretford in 1910, where they remain to this day. However, the town having an M postcode and Manchester being its post town mean that Stretford is considered part of Manchester.
  • Grimsby Town play in the town of Cleethorpes, a town to the east of Grimsby that has been absorbed by the former's outward growth during the 20th century.
  • Partick Thistle is a Scottish football club that moved from the Glasgow district of Partick to that of Maryhill but retains its name.
  • Nottingham Forest have long played outside of the Forest district of Nottingham and now reside in West Bridgford, just outside Nottingham's city limits, although they retain a Nottingham postal address. Interestingly, Notts County's Meadow Lane ground is within the city boundary despite their county name.
  • Bolton Wanderers play at the Reebok Stadium, which is situated in the neighbouring town of Horwich, since their relocation from 101-year-old Burnden Park in 1997.
  • In 1974, South Shields F.C. became Gateshead United F.C. after a move between the two towns that are 10 miles apart — repeating a similar migration in 1930. (This club folded in 1973. The present Gateshead F.C. and South Shields F.C. are new clubs.)
  • West Ham United have been located in what is now the London Borough of Newham since their creation as Thames Ironworks F.C. in 1895, but played in several different neighbourhoods within that area in their early history. Their first home was Hermit Road in Canning Town, followed by Browning Road in East Ham, before returning to Canning Town at the Memorial Grounds. After severing ties with the Thames Ironworks company and reforming as West Ham United in 1900, they initially played at the Memorial Grounds, but became a transient team in 1901, playing at several local clubs' grounds in another nearby neighbourhood, Upton Park. In 1904, they built the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, where they have remained to this day. West Ham are now tentatively scheduled to take over the Olympic Stadium, located in the Newham neighbourhood of Stratford, starting with the 2016–17 season. (They had initially been granted tenancy, but that decision was overturned and bidding was reopened.)

Rugby league[edit]

In 1999, just one year after the Sheffield Eagles won the Challenge Cup, they accepted an offer from the RFL to merge with the Huddersfield Giants. The new team, Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants, played some matches in Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium and some in Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium. However, the new team consisting of mostly ex-Sheffield players, whilst retaining the old -Giants suffix resulted in a lack of acceptance from both sets of fans (though primarily Sheffield), and the team reverted to the Huddersfield Giants name the following season, effectively a franchise of the team. A new Sheffield Eagles started from scratch that following season, and now compete in the second-tier Championship.

The same year, Gateshead Thunder, who had only been playing in the English Super League for one year, were taken over by Hull Sharks, who then reverted to their traditional brand of Hull. The merged club played all its home games in Hull. As with Sheffield, a new Gateshead Thunder team was set up by supporters of the old side to play in the National Leagues, since renamed the Championship and Championship 1. The current incarnation of Gateshead Thunder competes in Championship 1.

Following their inaugural Super League season in 2009, the Celtic Crusaders, based in the South Wales town of Bridgend since their formation in 2005, moved to the North Wales town of Wrexham and renamed themselves Crusaders Rugby League. The team folded after the 2011 season and was replaced by the North Wales Crusaders, competing in Championship 1.

Rugby union[edit]

A number of rugby union clubs have made minor relocations from time to time, almost always within their current conurbation.

Three of the five Premiership clubs whose historic roots are in London now play their home matches outside Greater London. One plays within the London commuter belt and has not announced any intention to move its matches elsewhere; a second now plays within the belt but will move its home matches outside the belt in December 2014; and a third plays outside the commuter belt.

  • London Irish were founded in London in 1898 for the city's Irish community. The club established their first home ground at The Avenue in Sunbury, Middlesex in 1931. In 1965, most of Middlesex was incorporated into Greater London, but Sunbury was instead attached to Surrey. In 2000, London Irish moved their senior team to Madejski Stadium in Reading (groundsharing with Reading F.C.), though their headquarters remain in Sunbury.
  • Wasps were founded in 1867 in North London via a membership split of Hampstead Football Club, which had been created a year earlier. They established their first permanent ground at Repton Avenue in Sudbury in 1923. In 1996, they moved within Greater London to groundshare with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, and eventually added "London" to their name in 1999. They moved outside Greater London in 2002 to share Adams Park in High Wycombe with Wycombe Wanderers. Wasps have since moved their headquarters to Adams Park, and dropped "London" from their official name in 2014. In October 2014, The Telegraph reported that Wasps were nearing completion of the purchase of a 50% interest in Ricoh Arena in Coventry, also home to Coventry City F.C., and would move their home games there in 2015–16. Wasps intend to keep their training base at Acton Park in West London, where it has remained throughout their recent moves.[21] Coventry Council unanimously approved the purchase on 7 October, and the move has also received the approval of the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby..[22] The following day, Wasps announced that their first home match at Ricoh Arena would occur that December.[23]
  • London Welsh were most recently promoted from the RFU Championship at the end of the 2013–14 season. London Welsh were founded in 1885 for the city's Welsh community, and eventually settled in at Old Deer Park in Richmond. However, they now groundshare with Oxford United at Kassam Stadium, well outside the commuter belt. They still maintain their training base at Old Deer Park.[21]

Two other Premiership clubs with London roots play in Greater London. One has remained in London throughout its history, while the other returned to London in February 2013 after more than a decade in Watford:

  • Harlequins, the second part of the Hampstead F.C. split, played at a number of grounds in London until the RFU invited them to play at Twickenham in 1906. The club acquired an athletics ground across the road from Twickenham in 1963, built today's Twickenham Stoop on the site, and have played there ever since. Quins have long been headquartered at Twickenham—first at the RFU stadium, and now at The Stoop.
  • Saracens were founded in 1876 in Marylebone, and moved numerous times within what is now Greater London. At the dawn of the professional era in 1995, they moved again within Greater London to Enfield, and then moved outside the boundary in 1997 to groundshare with Watford F.C. at Vicarage Road. Saracens initially planned to return home matches to Greater London at the Barnet Copthall complex in 2012, but delays meant that the move was put off until February 2013. The club currently maintain their headquarters outside Greater London in St Albans.

Another Premiership club, Sale Sharks, have moved their home ground from their original base, though within the same conurbation. Founded in Sale in 1861, they settled at Heywood Road in Sale in 1905, and played there for nearly a century. In 2003, they began a groundshare in Stockport with Stockport County F.C. at Edgeley Park, and eventually moved their headquarters there. After the 2011–12 season, they moved their home ground again within Greater Manchester, sharing the venue now known as AJ Bell Stadium with the Salford Red Devils (then Salford City Reds) rugby league side.

Team Relocations in Australia[edit]

The two major professional sporting leagues in Australia are the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL). Both competitions were originally based in one city (Melbourne and Sydney respectively) and expanded to a national level, and through this process there have been team relocations, mergers and closures in both leagues. The clubs are owned by members, not privately, but the North American franchise model exists, which means entry to the league is restricted. This hybrid model has meant that the leading promotor of relocation is the league itself, trying to grow the football code by encouraging poorly performing clubs to relocate interstate.

AFL[edit]

The AFL is the national competition in Australian rules football and grew out of the mostly suburban Melbourne based Victorian Football League competition; as a result the member clubs have had to move to adjust to a changing national focus.

Major Interstate Relocations and Mergers[edit]

  • South Melbourne Football Club - in 1982 relocated interstate to Sydney, 963 kilometres north and became the Sydney Swans. Despite early struggles, the club has more than tripled its membership since and have won premierships (championships) in 2005 & 2012.
  • Fitzroy Football Club - in 1996 the Melbourne based club merged its playing operations with the interstate Brisbane Bears, a club 1669 kilometres north of its original home, with the Bears becoming the Brisbane Lions. Since the merger, the Brisbane club almost doubled its membership and won three consecutive premierships between 2001 and 2003. Though the Fitzroy Football Club ceased fielding a team in profession competitions, it continued as a standalone entity based at its traditional home, and fields a team in the amateur Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA).

Minor Relocations[edit]

Home Ground Only Relocations[edit]

Secondary Interstate 'Home's[edit]

Some Melbourne based clubs began selling home games interstate in the late 1990s and conducting community camp clinics to build up local supporter bases.

NRL[edit]

The NRL is the national competition in rugby league and was born out of the Sydney based Australian Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League competitions. In 1987, the Western Suburbs Magpies agreed to relocate from its (inner) Western suburbs base to the outer south-western Macarthur district following a prior move west to Lidcombe Oval. In 1999, they merged with the remaining Inner Western team, the Balmain Tigers, (both teams having been established in 1908) to become Wests Tigers. The North Sydney Bears attempted to move from their Northern Suburbs base to the swiftly growing Central Coast region just north of Sydney in 1999, however problems with construction at the proposed home ground now known as Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium meant that the Bears continued to play home matches in a variety of Sydney grounds before being forced into a merger with the Manly Sea Eagles as the Northern Eagles. The merged clubs played home matches at both the Central Coast and Manly's home ground of Brookvale Oval, but after the bears were expelled from the partnership, poor crowds at the former location led to a reversion to the name of Manly and games played exclusively at Brookvale Oval. Subsequently one of the owners of Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium, John Singleton, has attempted to lure another club to play there, notably the South Sydney Rabbitohs who have experienced poor crowds at their new home ground of ANZ Stadium.

The Canterbury Bulldogs were formed in 1935 and played their first season without a home ground. In 1936, they settled at Belmore Oval (renamed the Belmore Sports Ground) and played home matches there until the end of the 1998 season. The Bulldogs trialled a number of alternative home grounds during the 1990s, including Concord Oval in 1994. In 1995 they changed their name to the Sydney Bulldogs played most of the Premiership winning season at Parramatta Stadium, sharing the ground with bitter rivals, the Parramatta Eels and the also renamed and relocated Sydney (Balmain) Tigers. They finally settled on Stadium Australia, the main stadium for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as their home ground, and in 2008, relocated their training and administration facilities from Belmore to the Homebush Olympic Park Site.

Other clubs have relocated to new home grounds but have retained their original base.

Relocations in other parts of the world[edit]

Relocations in other countries are done according to the type of sport played and/or the predominant style of league organization, as well as individual economic circumstances, for instance, in Japan there is a difference between Nippon Professional Baseball which is run like MLB and has relocated several franchises out of crowded markets, and the J. League which is run like European football leagues.

Club Relocations are also common when an amateur or semi-professional club tries to acquire its own facilities in order to become a professional club, and no money and/or space is available to build their own in a long-established location.

Brazil[edit]

In Brazil, the first relocation of a first division football team was in 2010. Grêmio Barueri relocated to Presidente Prudente, becoming Grêmio Prudente, only to return as Grêmio Barueri in the middle of 2011. In other sports, such as volleyball, basketball or futsal, relocation is a bit more common, although it doesn't occur frequently.

Colombia[edit]

In Colombia historic teams from First Division are rarely relocated, but newer teams created in second division are often moved from city to city looking for a responding fan base. 2008 Colombian Champions Chicó F.C. started as a B team in Bogotá Only to relocate to Tunja after promoting to First Division.

Japan[edit]

Baseball[edit]

Nippon Professional Baseball is run in similar fashion to MLB and has relocated several franchises out of crowded markets.

Football[edit]

The J. League is run similarly to the European football leagues has by contrast to the baseball league it has allowed only a few teams to move out of crowded or unprofitable markets

Mexico[edit]

Liga MX has a relegation system but its teams have some territorial rights recognized, perhaps due to U.S. influence as many league matches are aired in the U.S., where only traditional top-flight teams are perceived to most effectively reach the immigrant fan-base.

Peru[edit]

In Peru several teams have had to use already built large stadiums, including ones in the interior of the country, to be able to participate in Peruvian Primera División; this includes several teams from the capital, Lima, who have not been able to establish fanbases in their districts due to the required moves.

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa most football clubs are privately owned, and club relocation is relatively common. Several clubs, including top division Premier Soccer League clubs have moved and taken on new identities. The most recent PSL team to do this was Benoni Premier United, who moved to Kwa-Zulu Natal and became Thanda Royal Zulu. There are many other cases of South African relocations.

South Korea[edit]

In South Korean major professional sports such as Korea Professional Baseball, Korean Basketball League, V-League, relocations were common.

Football club relocations were frequent in the 1980s and 1990s. South Korea has three national tiers, but as in the North American system, there is no promotion or relegation between them. This is because of disagreement between the Korea Football Association and the chaebols that back the top clubs. Now many, if not most, of Korea National League and Challengers League clubs are fan-owned teams.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Charlotte Hornets Name Returns to Carolinas". NBA.com (Turner Sports Interactive, Inc.). May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014. 
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  11. ^ "Ex-Hoops hero Byrne saddened by plight of his former club". Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  12. ^ "Wednesday, July 10, 1996 - Page 16". Irish Times. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  13. ^ a b http://www.zawiszafans.pl/klub/historia
  14. ^ http://bydgoszcz.gazeta.pl/bydgoszcz/1,35591,3095744.html
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  19. ^ "Desaparece el BM Atlético". MARCA.com. 2013-07-10. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  20. ^ "Hammarby Hockey, publiksveket och konkursen". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  21. ^ a b Mairs, Gavin (2 October 2014). "Wasps close in on £30m deal to take over Ricoh Arena and move to Coventry". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Wasps move to Coventry's Ricoh Arena backed by council". BBC. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "Wasps in Coventry: Ricoh move to be completed by December". BBC Sport. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 

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