New partnership for Forward Madison FC

An affiliation with Chicago Fire expands brand reach and roster for Forward Madison FC.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Management at Forward Madison FC is looking forward to a new affiliation with Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire FC for the 2020 season. The official partnership will allow the Flamingos the opportunity to receive players on loan and host an exhibition match against the Fire.

The affiliation means the 2-year-old Madison club has access to more talent in terms of players and staff, according to Forward Madison FC Chief Operating Officer Conor Caloia.

As part of the partnership agreement, a member of the Fire’s technical staff will be present at each Forward Madison home game to monitor the development of players. The clubs will also share technical and performance resources.

“There’s eye-level integration between our coaching staffs both on the field and from a sports science and sports performance standpoint,” Caloia says.

The partnership will improve the team by increasing talent since the Chicago Fire is in the top division of American soccer and Forward Madison FC is in division three, he adds. Chicago Fire FC boasts one MLS Cup and four U.S. Open Cup trophies.

Caloia believes the relationship grew organically from long-time connections the team has had with the Fire. For example, he and Eddie Rock, senior director of soccer operations for Chicago Fire, have been connected since first beginning discussions about pursuing professional soccer at Breese Stevens Field. Additionally, Daryl Shore, Forward Madison’s head coach and technical director, spent 10 years as a coach for the Fire.

Caloia says the Fire affiliation is a good business move on a couple of levels. “It helps us on the business side both as we look to grow our brand, but also financially because the Fire is loaning their players to us free of charge. It allows us to fill out some roster spots in a creative way.”

Loaned players will allow the Madison soccer club to allocate their player payroll only to players they sign directly.

In addition, Caloia says the new partnership has perks for the Chicago Fire. “It gives them an outlet for their younger players to come here and get in actual games and continue to practice.”

The teams’ proximity makes the partnership easy, notes Caloia. “They are just 2 ½ hours away, and it’s easy to shuttle players back and forth.”

In addition, Forward Madison FC is exploring other options for broadening its following. Beyond the new relationship with the Fire, the team is exploring international partnerships, specifically with European clubs.

“We will have a partnership to announce soon that will be focused more on youth-related activities rather than our team on the field,” Caloia promises.

“We are working to build our footprint beyond Madison by working on strategic partnerships.”

At press time, Forward Madison FC’s season home opener was moved to Saturday, May 23. Stay tuned.

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