With a Canadian Premier League championship to their name, and one of the top teams in the league this season, Pacific FC is in solid shape on the field.
Now, the Island-based club is ready to take things to the next level off the field.
To that end, Pacific FC announced today that longtime Canadian sports executive and former CPL president Paul Beirne will be the club’s new managing director.
Beirne’s specialty is building a franchise, usually from the ground up, by linking together the product, the fans and the corporate community. And he’s coming east from Toronto at the perfect time. Pacific FC is already a model franchise in the CPL and now it’s gone international, making inroads in CONCACAF — they host Costa Rican side CS Herediano in a CONCACAF League Round of 16 match tonight — and the success on the field has led to plans to expand Starlight Stadium in Langford from its current 5,500 seats to 10,000 seats.
“As we looked ahead to what’s upcoming for Pacific FC as a purpose-driven club that supports professional players and countless youth programs across the region, we knew Paul’s drive, experience and commitment to the sport would help us achieve our goals,” Pacific FC president Josh Simpson said. “Now in our fourth season, with a championship to our name, we are looking to Paul to help us expand on what we can do as an organization in the community and for the betterment of Canadian soccer overall.”
As the CPL’s first president when the league launched in 2019, Beirne oversaw all logistics including soccer operations, branding and club management. In 2006, Beirne was the person behind the launch of Toronto FC in Major League soccer and BMO Field in 2007, and he was honoured by MLS as their “MLS Executive of the Year” for that record-breaking launch.
“When the Pacific FC opportunity came up, I already had a great respect for the ownership group and what they have created in Langford and Victoria, so I jumped at the chance to come help them in any way I can” Beirne said on the weekend from Rochester, New York, where he was helping new MLS Next Pro club put the finishing touches on the liftoff of their new franchise.
“I’m a big believer in the power of sports, football in particular. When you can merge the game on the field with the fans and corporate community it becomes very special for everyone in the community.”
Beirne’s resume also had an international flair to it. In 2014 he was lured overseas to help turn around the fortunes, both on and off the field, of renowned English club Brighton & Hove Albion. In just two years the club made it to the Premier League and, with Beirne head of commercial development focusing on managing and growing all commercial revenue for the club, community and charity, Brighton was named finalists in four categories for the Football Business Awards — Best Matchday Experience, best fan engagement by a club, best marketing of a football club, and best non-matchday use of a venue.
“I learned a lot during my time in Brighton and, like my other ventures, you take a sum of your experiences and bring them to your next opportunity,” Beirne said. “So Brighton, like Victoria, is a very passionate community when it comes to their football and if you can build off that, which Pacific has already done a great job of doing, you usually have a lot of success.”
Beirne will also fill a void in the PFC ownership group as current owner Rob Friend transitions to become co-founder/partner and president of the expansion Langley CPL franchise that is due to join the league next season.
When he arrives in Victoria next month, Beirne says he will immediately get to work on next year’s ticket renewals, selling season tickets and meeting the corporate partners of Pacific FC.
“I really can’t wait to hit the ground running with Pacific,” added Beirne. “My wife and I are excited to start home searching and meeting people in the community. Pacific FC has done such a good job already of building a relationship within the community so we’re just going to build off that and hopefully create something really special.”
CORNER KICKS: Pacific FC enters tonight’s match with Herediano with a 1-0-1 record in CONCACAF League play as they had a 0-0 draw and 6-0 home victory over Jamaican club Waterhouse FC in the opening round. After tonight’s match, PFC and Herediano will meet Aug. 23 in San Jose, Costa Rica, for the second leg.