SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Soccer fans in Sacramento have been dealt another blow after Republic FC President and COO Ben Gumpert announced he would be stepping down from his role.
Yet while the main investor, Ron Burkle, announced he backed out of the deal last week, both team and city officials said they’re confident they can find another investor.
The team said Todd Dunivant will replace Gumpert. Chairman and CEO Kevin Nagle will remain in his current position.
“This just made me sad,” said Stefan Spich, a founding member of the Sacramento Republic FC fan group Levee Patrol.
Spich said Friday’s announcement was disappointing but not a complete surprise.
“There were some ominous signs when there was not progress, and St. Louis is who we should compare ourselves to,” he explained. “When you watch their groundbreaking and you watch their logo go up on the MLS website, and you didn’t see Sacramento doing those things.”
Meanwhile, Gumpert will stay with the team as an advisor — as the Republic and the city try to save their bid to join the MLS.
“I know that there are phenomenal things ahead for Republic FC and all involved,” Gumpert said. “It’s been a long part of this journey, and there’s always a time to step down and step away and let the club continue to grow.”
“This is not starting from scratch,” he continued. “We are far ahead on so many fronts and this is about continuing that push, having the right conversations with all involved to continue to push this forward.”
On Friday, MLS released a statement saying the league will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento, but the statement did not mention Republic FC.
“I don’t read anything into that, I would say,” Gumpert said.
FOX40 asked the mayor if that means the city must bring MLS to Sacramento through another team.
“I don’t think so. I think the Republic FC should continue to be our anchor, continue to have active local ownership, and I don’t see why we have to approach this any differently,” Steinberg replied.
Meanwhile, Spich said, for now, fans are happy to continue rooting on the Republic in the United Soccer League.
“Quite a lot of the fans, probably most of them, didn’t buy just so they could sit in MLS one day,” he said. “They enjoy going to the games and watching the team win and got some good returning players, some good new players. I’m excited to watch it work this year.”
FOX40 asked when the last time Nagle spoke with Burkle was, but a team spokesperson did not have an answer.