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Loughnane leaves Crew SC to be president of Austin FC

The president of business operations is on his way out of Columbus.

MLS: Columbus Crew Press Conference Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Loughnane’s time in Columbus is over. The former Columbus Crew SC president of business operations is leaving to become president of Anthony Precourt’s new Major League Soccer franchise, Austin FC. The club announced the appointment of Loughnane on Thursday.

“Andy’s long track record of success in the sports and entertainment industry, and his instrumental leadership of Columbus Crew SC make him the ideal leader to serve as president of Austin FC,” Precourt said in a statement. “He is a proven operator who will be crucial to achieving our goal of developing a proud, winning Club in Austin. I look forward to continuing to work closely again with Andy as we embark on this great opportunity to build a Major League Soccer team in Austin.”

According to the release, Loughnane will oversee front office operations as well as “community and supporter engagement, ticketing, sponsorships, marketing and communications, digital and social platforms, content creation, media distribution, merchandise, food and beverage and stadium operations” for Austin FC, a club expected to begin play in MLS in 2021.

Loughnane first joined Crew SC in 2014. In a three-year span under his watch from 2015 to 2017, the Black & Gold saw an annual increase in sponsorship, ticketing and food and beverage revenue. Loughnane oversaw the club go through a rebrand as well as helping to establish new local broadcasting rights to games and multiple jersey sponsorships. The biggest business deal reached during Loughnane’s time with Crew SC was finding a naming-rights partner for the previously unbranded Columbus Crew Stadium, which became MAPFRE Stadium in 2015. This deal was the franchise’s largest-ever commercial transaction.

“The opportunity to launch a city’s first major league team, open a state-of-the-art stadium and begin the process of competing for the first major league championship in the history of Austin is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am incredibly honored to represent Anthony Precourt and Major League Soccer as we collectively build this community asset for all of Austin to enjoy,” Loughnane said in the statement. “Austin is a special place, and on behalf of the entire club, we are eager to begin the process of earning the trust of those who preserve and grow the legend of Austin.”

Before coming to work for Crew SC under Precourt Sports Ventures, Loughnane served as VP of corporate partnerships for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, was a member of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets’ inaugural front-office staff and also worked for the Detroit Red Wings.

This move now opens the way for Crew SC’s new interim investor-operators — Pete Edwards and Dee and Jimmy Haslam who officially took over on Jan. 1 — to move forward with their own hire at the position. Reports have circulated that Edwards and the Haslams will name former Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko as team president. He would oversee both the soccer and business sides of the club, roles that were previously split between Loughnane and former head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter, now the manager of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Massive Report has also reported that former Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter will be named as the next head coach of Crew SC. Both the Bezbatchenko and Porter announcements are imminent now that Edwards and the Haslams have taken over operational control of the club.