The Controlling Owner of FC Cincinnati, Carl Lindler III, announced the promotion of Jeff Berding to Co-CEO of the club.
Having served as Club President since 2015, Berding will now oversee priorities such as the 2026 World Cup bid, commercial development around TQL Stadium, facility expansion, consideration of a Women’s Team and other development of the club.
“Now that we have opened our world-class stadium and begin our move to the next chapter of FC Cincinnati, I felt the time was right to award Jeff Berding a promotion. As co-CEOs, Jeff and I will be better able to handle the expanded areas of enterprise work resulting from the growth of the Club,” said Carl H. Lindner, III. “I do not feel the title of Team President for Jeff sufficiently addressed his leadership position, which the FC Cincinnati Holdings President/Team Co-CEO title more accurately provides and better defines his co-executive leadership of the enterprise with me.”
With the move, the club has begun the process of hiring a new Club President in a process led by Sportsology’s Mike Forde.
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Lindner felt the need for the club to have a president more focused on the soccer aspects of the club while freeing up Berding’s responsibilities to drive the development of the organization including opportunities around TQL Stadium.
“He’s not being moved away from the (president) role,” Lindner told The Enquirer. “If anything, we are freeing up some room to add to the soccer IQ of our team.”
This move could also allow him to have further time to serve as the Chairman of the Board for Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. In a story from late 2021, Berding was also mentioned to be leading a movement to develop Ft. Washington Way as a part of the completion of the Banks Project.
Where will FC Cincinnati go from here?
The quote from Lindner above is telling. FC Cincinnati has struggled the last three years with a lack of soccer experience in the front office. You could see FC Cincinnati look internally throughout the league but also around the world for a Club President.
There are several ways other clubs across the league have set up their front office that FC Cincinnati could learn from.
Atlanta United brought in Darren Eales as President while former USMNT defender Carlos Bocanegra was named Vice President and Technical Director. Eales’s time as an executive of a top English Premier League club in Tottenham Hotspur gave him connections and cache to focus on top international talent while Bocanegra focused on building out the academy and roster. I could see FC Cincinnati going this route. Focusing on a heavy domestically based staff with MLS experience and partnering with a closer like Eales to bring in top end talent.
The Columbus Crew hired Tim Bezbatchenko as their President in 2019 but he serves a dual role as their General Manager. I don’t expect FC Cincinnati to promote Chris Albright immediately nor do I expect them to push him out.
I would look for the new president to be highly involved in both the men’s and future women’s teams like US Soccer Sporting Director Ernie Stewart. Stewart oversees the framework for US Soccer’s technical approach and development path while leaving the day to day running of the teams to General Managers Brian McBride and Kate Markgraf. FC Cincinnati could allow a new President to come in aligned with similar ideas to new General Manager Chris Albright and empower him to hire and manage coaches and players of the men’s and youth teams.
In the end, this move is a natural progression for both Berding and FC Cincinnati. The club itself is still riding a massive wave of growth and stands to expand even more in the coming years. Bringing in a soccer mind to lead that charge is a smart move for the club. It will free up someone to come in to focus on ever growing soccer responsibilities without pushing burdens onto the plate of Chris Albright who has a mighty task of building the MLS and MLS Next squads.