Phoenix club (sports)

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The term phoenix club is one used in professional team sports to refer to a new parent company that is set up to replace the parent company of a club that has failed in business terms but not in sporting terms, ideally while maintaining the continuity of the sporting activity.[1][2] In some cases, the phoenix club is created by the supporters of the club which has ended (or appears to be on the point of ending). A phoenix club will often have the same or similar name, logo and playing uniform to the original club. The term is particularly prevalent in the United Kingdom in relation to association football, though it is also used in other countries.

The term is also occasionally used to refer to a club formed by disgruntled supporters of a major team when a change of ownership or policy causes them to lose faith in the management of their favoured side (as happened in 2005 when F.C. United of Manchester were formed by fans of Manchester United as a protest at the sale of the latter to Malcolm Glazer).[3] although their status as such may be disputed if the original club is still in existence at the time.

The term is taken from the mythical phoenix bird, which is said to resurrect itself from its own ashes. In the Australia-New Zealand A-League the demise of the sole New Zealand team, New Zealand Knights, resulted in the newly created club actually calling itself the Phoenix, albeit that the club moved to a different city, Wellington.

In some cases, phoenix clubs will retain the name of the club which they replaced, implying a continuation from the former team. In other cases, name changes occur, perhaps due to proprietorial ownership existing on the old club's name. An American football example is the Cleveland Browns, the original franchise of which moved to Baltimore in 1995 to become the Baltimore Ravens; the NFL however stipulated as part of the move the franchise would not be able to keep the team history and records of the Browns, a cornerstone NFL franchise. In 1999, the "new" Browns were granted an expansion franchise and were awarded all of the former team's history by the league, even though the extant Ravens had the original Browns players and personnel.

It does not also include teams that relocated and/or have been renamed as a going concern, although many of the former may have their founding date as the day they have moved and still have strong links to their past, however they are considered to be the same club and therefore cannot be a phoenix (unless their previous entity officially folded and was liquidated).

However, the term phoenix club is one that could be disputed depending on the criteria used, as there is no single universally accepted definition. Furthermore, there may be changes in what each country's football governing body and legal system defines as a phoenix club and not a resurrected club.

Association football[edit]


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established
1. FC Vöcklabruck Vöcklabrucker SC[4] 2009
Hakoah Vienna SC Maccabi Wien[5] 2010


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established
K.S.K. Beveren Waasland-Beveren[6] 2010
Beerschot AC FCO Beerschot Wilrijk[7][8] 2013
R.E. Mouscron Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz[9] 2010


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established
AA Cabofriense AD Cabofriense [10] 1997
Colorado and Pinheiros Paraná Clube[11] 1989
Grêmio Novorizontino (1973) Grêmio Novorizontino (2001) [12] 2001
Icasa E.C. A.D.R.C. Icasa[13] 2002


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established
F.C. Etar FC Etar 1924 Veliko Tarnovo[14] 2003 OFC Etar Veliko Tarnovo[15] 2013

Costa Rica[edit]

Original club Phoenix club Year established
Asociación Deportiva Limonense Limón F.C.[16] 2009
A.D. Generaleñaa AS Puma Generaleña[17] 2010

a A.D. Generaleña merged with A.D. Pérez Zeledón to become Municipal Pérez Zeledón, de facto only continuing the Pérez Zeledón heritage.


Original club Phoenix club Year established
NK Varaždin NK Varteks[18] 2011

England / Wales[edit]

Original club Phoenix club Year established
Merthyr Town F.C. Merthyr Tydfil F.C.[19] 1945
Willand Wanderers F.C. Willand Rovers F.C.[20] 1946
Accrington Stanley F.C. (1891) Accrington Stanley F.C.[21] 1968
Newport County Newport County AFC[22] 1989
Aldershot F.C. Aldershot Town F.C.[23] 1992
Wimbledon F.C.a AFC Wimbledon[24][25][26]
MK Dons[27]
Hornchurch F.C. AFC Hornchurch[28] 2005
Scarborough F.C. Scarborough Athletic F.C.[29] 2007
Farnborough Town F.C. Farnborough F.C.[30] 2007
Halifax Town A.F.C.[31] F.C. Halifax Town[32] 2008
Fisher Athletic F.C. Fisher F.C.[33] 2009
Chester City F.C. Chester F.C.[34] 2010
Merthyr Tydfil F.C. Merthyr Town F.C.[35] 2010
Rushden & Diamonds F.C. AFC Rushden & Diamonds[36] 2011
Windsor & Eton F.C. Windsor F.C.[37] 2011
Croydon Athletic F.C. AFC Croydon Athletic[38] 2012
Darlington F.C. Darlington 1883[39] 2012
Hereford United Hereford F.C[40] 2015

a Wimbledon F.C. became Milton Keynes Dons F.C. in 2004, two years after the foundation of AFC Wimbledon; see Relocation of Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes.


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Tampere United TamU-K[41] 2009


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Gap FC Gap Foot 05[42] 2012


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established
BSG Chemie Leipzig (1950) FC Sachsen Leipzig 1990 BSG Chemie Leipzig (2011)[43] 2011
SpVgg Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin SV Blau Weiss Berlin[44][45] 1992
DVV Coburg FC Coburg[46] 2011


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Putra Samarinda Pusamania Borneo F.C.[47] 2014


In the early 21st century, several Italian clubs endured severe economic problems. Some, most notably Fiorentina,[48][49] Napoli,[50][51][52] Parma[53][54] and Torino[55] were each declared bankrupt and had to reapply to play at a lower level with new owner and new corporate entity. All are considered to be the same clubs[according to whom?] before and after the bankruptcy rather than separate phoenix entities; They obtained the "sports title" to remain in the Italy football pyramid using clauses in the Article 52 of N.O.I.F..[52][55]


Original club Phoenix club Year established
FK Liepājas Metalurgs FK Liepāja[56] 2014


Original club Phoenix club Year established
FK Sloga Jugomagnat FK Shkupi[57] 2012
FK Bashkimi (1947–2008) FK Bashkimi (2011)[58] 2011
FK Pobeda FK Pobeda (2010)[59] 2010

Northern Ireland[edit]

Original club Phoenix club Year established
Ballymena F.C. Ballymena United F.C.[60] 1934
Newry City F.C. Newry City AFC[61] 2013


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established 3rd Phoenix club Year established
Juan Aurich (1922–1992)[citation needed] Aurich–Cañaña 1993 Juan Aurich (1996–2004)[citation needed] 1996 Juan Aurich (2005)[62] 2005

Republic of Ireland[edit]

Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established
Cork City Cork United[63] 1940 Cork Athletic[63] 1948


Original club Phoenix Club Year established
FC Argeș Pitești F.C. Argeș 1953[64] 2013


Original club Phoenix club Year established
FC Spartak Ryazan FC Ryazan[65] 1995


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Clydebank F.C. (1965–2002)b Clydebank F.C. (2003– ) 2002
Gretna F.C. Gretna F.C. 2008[66] 2008

b Airdrieonians F.C. (1878) were liquidated in 2002[67] but their owners bought Clydebank[68] and rebranded it as Airdrie United (now known as Airdrieonians F.C. (2002)); therefore that club is not a phoenix as it took the place of an existing entity. However the current incarnation of Clydebank is a phoenix, as it was founded by supporters to replace the entity which had moved to Airdrie[69] and had to restart at the bottom of the (Junior) league pyramid.

cThe commercial entity of Rangers F.C. was liquidated in 2012,[70] however the sporting assets were acquired by a new company[71] which allowed its playing membership to continue unbroken (albeit in the lowest division of the Scottish football league system).[72] It is regarded as a continuation of the same club by the relevant authorities.[73][74][75][76]


Original club Phoenix club Year established
ŽAK Subotica FK Spartak Subotica[77] 1945
FK Hajduk Kula OFK Hajduk[78][79][80] 2013 [81]


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established
I. SSK Maribor NK Branik Maribor[82] 1949
NK Izola MNK Izola[83] 1996
NK Ljubljana FC Ljubljana[84] 2005
NK Olimpija Ljubljana (defunct) NK Olimpija Ljubljana (2005)[85][86] 2005
NK Primorje DNŠ Ajdovščina[87] 2011


Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established
CP Mérida Mérida UD[88] 2000 Mérida AD[89] 2013
CF Ciudad de Murcia CAP Ciudad de Murcia[90] 2010
UD Salamanca Unionistas de Salamanca CF[91] 2013
CD Ourense UD Ourense[92] 2014

United States[edit]

Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established
Austin Aztex FC Austin Aztex 2011[93]
Bethlehem Steel F.C. (1907–30) Bethlehem Steel FC 2015[94]
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (1977–83) Fort Lauderdale Strikers (1988–94) 1988[95]
San Jose Clash/Earthquakes (1994) San Jose Earthquakes 2008[96]
New York Cosmos (1970–85) New York Cosmos (2010) 2010[97]
Tampa Bay Rowdies (1975–93) Tampa Bay Rowdies 2010[98]


United States[edit]

Original club 1st Phoenix club Year established 2nd Phoenix club Year established
Cincinnati Red Stockings Cincinnati Reds (1876–80) 1875 Cincinnati Reds 1890
Los Angeles Angels (PCL) Los Angeles Angels 1961[99]
New York Metropolitans New York Mets 1961[100]



Original club Phoenix club Year established
Prokom Trefl Sopot Trefl Sopot[101] 2009

United Kingdom[edit]

Original club Phoenix club Year established
Thames Valley Tigers Guildford Heat[102] 2005
Manchester Giants (1975–2001) Manchester Giants[103] 2011

Ice hockey[edit]


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Manchester Storm (1995–2002) Manchester Phoenix[104] 2003


Original club Phoenix club Year established
Hammarby Hockey (1921–2008) Hammarby Hockey[105][106] 2008


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