Ajax Orlando Football Club (AOFC) announced this week that it has officially applied for membership in two national soccer leagues, the Premier Development League (PDL) and the A-League, a top U.S. professional soccer circuit.
,,We are very excited at the prospect of playing in the PDL during the 2004 season, and bringing A-League soccer back to the area in 2005, said Ajax Orlando President Mark Dillon, a former professional soccer player in the USA and Europe who has managed and coached several professional teams in the Orlando area.
The PDL franchise that Ajax Orlando seeks will add a second premier development team to the 'soccer hot' Greater Orlando area. Currently, the Central Florida Kraze plays in North Orange and Seminole Counties. The PDL has nearly 60 teams throughout the US. Its teams are comprised of a mix of young talent and college athletes seeking to develop their skill levels in an atmosphere of increased competition.
Dillon said that Ajax Orlando and its financial partner ATP Online (based in Amsterdam and London), plan to field highly competitive teams in both leagues featuring young players who will be developed within the world-famous teaching regimen perfected by the Orlando clubs technical partner, European soccer powerhouse AFC Ajax. AFC Ajax recently awarded Dillons group the first and only authorized use in the US of the famous Ajax logo, its marketing prowess and its youth training techniques, considered the 'gold standard' of youth development.
,,One of our top priorities will be to secure a permanent stadium where our A-League team will play its games, Dillon said. ,,It is a mutual goal of Ajax, the A-League and Ajax Orlando, and we have already started that process with both private and public interests.
Echoing Dillons statement about the need for a new stadium for the Orlando market was USL Chief Operating Officer David Askinas, who said he was pleased that Ajax Orlando was entering the PDL and had also applied for an A-League franchise.
,,The addition of an important city such as Orlando would be a plus for A-League, Askinas said. ,,The affiliation with Ajax of Amsterdam, one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world, enhances the attraction of adding the Orlando club to the league.
,,A key element of the application that we will examine is the construction of a soccer venue that can offer professional amenities to ensure spectator enjoyment. In an entertainment-rich area such as Orlando, it is critical to be able to deliver a state of the art, small soccer stadium to the growing number of soccer fans in the area, especially international fans who are faithful to teams like Ajax.
,,Our teams must be able to deliver a comfortable seat, quality food and beverage and corporate hospitality areas in order to compete for the sports and entertainment dollar, Askinas said.