"The problem really lies way deeper in the process and culture as a whole than simply finding the players."
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Hello and welcome AP Readers! I'm starting something a little new today that I hope improves your reading experience here. Since our interviews vary in length and detail, (Anybody remember our 2 Part interview with the Rhode Island Reds?) I'm going to let you know up front a rough estimate of the reading time for the interview. That way you know how much to commit in one sitting, or throughout the day. This interview, based on average reading ability, should take between 5-7 minutes to read beginning to end.
Also, if you haven't noticed, we've revamped our standings bar. You can now view standings for 20+ leagues from around the country, broken down by region, from Hawaii to New England. You should totally check it out. Click a league, and it will take you to the leagues website in a new tab. Hopefully this helps drive up these leagues web traffic, which will make them easier for people to find, so do them a solid and check them out.
Now, PJ Harrison and I emailed back and forth over a couple of weeks regarding the vision and motivation behind this new NPSL club, City of Angels FC. Due to the time difference, it's a little shorter than you might be used, but plenty worth the read. Check it out.
Tell readers a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with City of Angels FC.
My name is PJ Harrison. I'm from Merseyside, England. I am one of the founder of the club alongside my partner Joe Sumner.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer, and involved with City of Angels?
I can't remember a day I didn't love football. There's always a ball or a something football related in my earliest memories.
I'm building the club because my love football itself and what football can be a conduit for remains as enthusiastic as it did when I was a 5 year old boy and it's good for a man to be surrounded by his joys.
You decided to name the team City of Angels FC, and your crest is pretty sweet. What made you choose that name and color scheme?
We come from a British footballing culture where teams have almost always include FC. FC is a critically important part of the name because a football club is fundamentally and conceptually different from a football team. A club is an inclusive thing. A team is 11 guys. We want to be an inclusive experience for the local and international community.
Some of the other suffixes in England would be a little incongruous in the US "Albion" or "Hotspur" for example and other have been over referenced by US teams, certainly in the case of "United".
The Los Angeles brand is an appealing one internationally but the sports market is saturated with LA team brands. We didn't want to be another variation of "LA" on a baseball cap. We settled on City of Angels partially because it translates and partially because it has strong brand awareness internationally in the same way "Sin City" does for Vegas and "The Big Apple" does for NYC. We knew we could own that name in a way we couldn't with "LA" and put a different slant on this sports scene.
Since you guys have already kicked off, what's one thing that has been more difficult than you expected, and one that's been easier?
In terms of the colors we decided early on it would be black and gold (in fact before some other teams started using it). When we started the creative process we looked at the colors in the city. On one hand you have these vibrant, ocean inspired and sun baked blues and pinks. On the other, there's all this great deco, Mayan and Aztec inspired architecture which draws on black and gold and because we were in the music business the black spoke loudest. Also, black doesn't have a history in football because until fairly recently the referees always wore black which precluded any club or international side from making it a home color, so again it was a chance to do something different.
We worked with the UNDFTD guys on the crest as we wanted to make something new which had a feeling of being made in LA and for LA but with a non-traditional concept.
One of the big reasons you've stated for operating the club is to find players who slip through the cracks. How do you plan on creating a network to find those kinds of players?
The thing about footballers is you don't have to find them. They are out there in plain sight, approaching you. We get so many inbound inquiries. The problem really lies way deeper in the process and culture as a whole than simply finding the players. We have some thoughts on how to address that and time will tell if those were the right thoughts. Don't feel like many people would have understood a name like 'Albion Los Angeles,' so good call on that one.
You guys have already touched on why you chose the NPSL in several interviews, so let's put a different slant on this. What do you at City of Angels hope to bring to the NPSL in terms of exposure, expertise, and innovation?
The NPSL is in safe hands and knows what it's doing in terms of those things. We're more focused with how we can bring those things to the community and create new opportunities.
Since the upfront cost of joining the NPSL is much lower than doing a professional team in the current American soccer climate, where do you hope to see the team in 5 years, now that you have extra capital to invest into the club?
It doesn't work like that...We see City Of Angels being an established club and hopefully continuing to reach new people in 5 years time.
What are on or two ways you plan on creating opportunities for players at City of Angels FC?
Each club has it's own identity. That's what makes football such a great culture. As an owner I have a vision on what I want the club to do but we're also being shaped by the local community, players, fans and other individuals who come to us as we the club develops. That is more important than anything else.
What is the one thing you would say makes your club different from the other in the LA area?
This club is as much an opportunity for football fans to shape as for us.
Having only driven through LA on my way from Long Beach to Santa Barbara, how would you describe LA to someone who has never been? What makes it a great place for a club like yours to call home?
Los Angeles is a beautiful city with a profound sense of optimism. It's the world's city and there's a really diverse population bringing different experiences and perspectives on life and football.
People love their football here and it's developing a very unique footballing identity.
When you think of a successful soccer club, who comes to mind and why?
When I think of a successful football club Everton immediately come to mind. Absolute footballing royalty done the right way since the 1800s.
There's an increasingly narrowing view of what constitutes footballing success these days. I think clubs like Benfica, Southampton, Crewe Alexandra and Bournemouth are all very successful in their own respects. Trophies are important. You have to compete but clubs are about more than just that.
I like the Everton choice. Too many people immediately think of super clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United. Let's move into the shorter questions to wrap things up. What's your favorite team and or league to watch for fun?
Man Utd aren't a super club. They're just a club.
I mainly watch The Premier League, but will catch Liga MX, Seria A and The Championship games if I can.
Favorite players, one past, one present.
Favorite player is such a difficult one...I was a huge Gary Lineker fan during his Everton and Barca days so I'll have to go for him from my past. Favorite contemporary player is probably Seamus Coleman. It's been fascinating watching his development in to a top class full back. He suffered a terrible leg break while on international duty a couple of months ago and will be out for a long time but I look forward to seeing him back on the pitch. I'm going to throw in another who is both past and present, transcending time, Andrea Pirlo.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to readers?
I just finished reading Carlo Ancelotti's "Quiet leadership" which is very insightful. Pirlo, Iniesta & Sol Campbell all have good autobiographies but Neville Southall's "The Bin Man Chronicles" is still the best titled football autobiography out there.
Podcast wise I listen to BBC 5 live's pods to keep me abreast of the English perspective. "Athletico Mince" cracks me up when it's on form. The Guardian and The Times both do good football podcasts.
Where can people find out more about you and City of Angels FC?
@cityofangelsfc on both IG and Twitter and cityofangelsfc.LA, and you can follow me at @harrivision
If someone were to ask you, 'why should I support a lower league team like City of Angels FC?,' what would you say?
Where I grew up there were two governing factors in team choice: Who your Dad supported and how far you lived to the nearest ground. Football's more international now so that maybe is changing a little. You just have to find something about that particular club that speaks to you in a way where you feel hooked for life. It doesn't matter which league they play in. It's about what the represent to you.
Thank you again for your time PJ, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the weekly content coming out on AP you can Follow AP on Twitter, or Like AP on Facebook. And if you want make sure you never miss an interview, and want to read articles before everyone else, click here and sign up for the Newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road.
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