The United Premier Soccer League is coming to Nebraska.
Nebraska Bugeaters FC is scheduled to begin play in April 2018, the club and league announced Monday.
The club is founded by Jonathan Collura, a third generation Nebraskan, and fellow Nebraska native Tim Pendrell. The Bugeaters nickname is an homage to Nebraska’s agricultural history, Collura said in a news release.
“The tractor on the badge is based on my grandfather’s Ford N-Series, which he had here in Lincoln,” Collura said.
The club will play in the UPSL’s Pro Premier Division, the release said, and its conference will be finalized at the annual league meeting in January.
UPSL commissioner Yan Skwara said the league was happy with the ownership group and feels the Lincoln business plan fits into the league’s vision for longevity.
“I think (the business plan is) calculated, I think there’s a good strategy in place, with the ownership group behind it,” Skwara told the Journal Star in a phone interview. “And I think with our model and their business acumen, I think it will translate to longevity.”
Collura graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1998 and is the founding partner of SAF Capital Partners, a Dallas-based equity company, and 1836 Capital, a structured finance and management company.
The Lincoln club is his fourth soccer investment. Collura's previous soccer ventures include a fifth division English football club, Napa Valley 1839 FC (in the National Premier Soccer League) and Republic FC Management, an academy and club management company in England.
“We have plans to expand Bugeaters FC to include a women’s team and ultimately set up an academy,” said Pendrell, who will serve as general manager. “Our goal is to help take Lincoln’s soccer culture to the next level and tie in to the local community.”
And the UPSL, Skwara said, is all about longevity.
“Our league is about years to come and years in business,” Skwara said. “At this level, the pro development level, a lot of teams come and go.”
Collura and Pendrell are finalizing a stadium deal, and expect an announcement soon on that front. The club will also name a head coach soon, and coaching candidates can contact the club. Information on try outs will be posted on the club’s website (www.bugeatersfc.com).
The UPSL is a national affiliate of the United States Adult Soccer Association, within the larger United States soccer league system. The full season, adult amateur soccer league was formed in 2011 to provide a competitive option for players seeking to play at higher levels. Since its inaugural year, the league has grown from 10 teams to over 125 scheduled to play this spring.
Lincoln entered the semi-professional soccer landscape in the summer of 2017 with two squads in the Champions Soccer League USA. But the league’s status was in trouble just one month after the Lincoln clubs opened play in June 2017, following the resignation of the CSL president, teams dropping out and reported unpaid debts.