Phil Rawlins, the Orlando City Soccer Club founder who introduced skilled soccer to Central Florida, is stepping down as the staff’s president efficient instantly, the club introduced Tuesday.
Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao will assume the club’s day-to-day operations. Rawlins will stick with the workforce in a brand new position, Life President, serving as a advisor, an envoy and can characterize the club on all league boards, together with MLS, the women’s NWSL and the second-tier USL.
“I’m here today to let you know of a personal decision I have taken,” Rawlins stated in a video posted on Twitter.
“I am going to be stepping down from my day to day operations at Orlando City as president and handing over to Alex Leitao, my good friend, who has been with us for four years. But don’t worry, I’m not going away, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here. I am staying on board with the board of directors, and in fact I have been given the position of Life President of the club, which I am very, very honored to take on.”
Leitao, a member of the staff’s board of administrators since 2012, turned CEO at first of the 2016 season. In his new position, he’ll report on to the board, the workforce stated in a information launch.
“The opening of the stadium in March is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle. With the stadium complete I have accomplished all that I promised the community of Central Florida when I arrived in Orlando in 2010,” Rawlins stated within the information launch.
“… For the past nine years, three in Austin and six here in Central Florida, I have given my all, 24/7, to building this soccer club. During that time, we have won numerous awards and are considered to be a model for both minor league success and Major League Soccer expansion. I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved.”
Club proprietor Flavio Augusto da Silva was quoted within the information launch as saying, “When Phil told me his desire to leave the day-to-day operations, I was saddened by his decision. He has made an enormous contribution to both this Club and the Orlando community. I wish Phil great success with whatever he decides to do next. I have all trust in Alex and his team to continue the story of success that Phil built,”
According to the club, it’s going to not exchange Rawlins’ presidential place.
Rawlins and former coach Adrian Heath turned the co-founders of Orlando City once they launched their plan of forming an MLS franchise over a number of pints in an English pub in 2008.
In 2010, they moved the USL’s Austin Aztex to Orlando to turn into Orlando City. The Lions have been instantly one of many USL’s most profitable groups and gained the league championship twice.
In 2011, Rawlins started critical pursuit of a Major League Soccer franchise for Orlando. He and Heath constructed grassroots help with followers and native leaders, with Orlando and Orange County agreeing to fund a soccer-specific stadium for a MLS workforce.
But to get the required funding for the MLS enlargement payment and workforce operations, Rawlins surrendered his majority possession to Augusto da Silva, a Brazilian businessman.
On Nov. 19, 2013, in an enormous celebration at Church Street Station, MLS Commissioner Don Garber introduced Orlando City would grow to be the league’s 21st franchise.
The group bought out its MLS debut on the then-Citrus Bowl with greater than 62,000 followers watching as the Lions drew a tie with fellow enlargement aspect NYCFC in March 2015.
After Orlando City simply missed making the playoffs in its enlargement yr, and began the 2016 season slowly, the staff fired the favored Heath as coach in July, ultimately changing him with former NYCFC coach Jason Kreis.
Heath’s departure led to hypothesis that Rawlins may too depart the franchise he helped discovered.
In an interview with Orlando Sentinel soccer author Alicia DelGallo after Heath was fired, Rawlins was requested if he was going anyplace anytime quickly. He replied adamantly: “Only back to my office after this is over. No, I’m not.”
But, in what might have been foreshadowing of Tuesday’s announcement, Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi wrote in July:
“More important, Rawlins is connected to the politicians and the movers and shakers in the business community. Even if Rawlins is losing some of his clout, there’s no reason he can’t still be the public face of the franchise. I could foresee Rawlins becoming the Pat Williams of Orlando City. Williams was co-founder of the Orlando Magic and was originally the team president and GM, but eventually evolved into a role as the team’s resident patriarch and goodwill ambassador,” Bianchi wrote.
Roger Simmons is the chief sports activities and leisure editor for the Orlando Sentinel. You can attain him by way of e-mail at email@example.com. Or comply with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@rogersimmons. Become a fan of the Orlando Sentinel Sports Facebook web page at https://www.facebook.com/orlandosentinelsports