Mark Ellis

The sky’s the limit for RIASA players with acquisition of Finnish football club

Mark Ellis, Academy Director at Richmond International Academic & Soccer Academy (RIASA) in Leeds, is thrilled to announce that, alongside other investors, he has recently acquired a major shareholding in former Premier League Finnish club, PS Kemi – offering more exciting opportunities for graduated RIASA student athletes.

Mark said, “This acquisition provides a tremendously exciting opportunity for both RIASA and all of our student athletes.  Having the club will provide an extended pathway for both male and female RIASA students, allowing them to continue to play in a professional environment, along with the chance to be seen and  progress more easily and beyond what was previously achievable.   Therefore, what was only a dream of a playing career, including the Champions or Europa leagues, could now be a reality for those student athletes who make the grade.”

Former RIASA student Christian Eissele was one of those players who has experienced how the club can help develop a player’s career.  Having graduated from RIASA, Christian played across three different divisions in Finland, winning promotion with the then Kemi Kings, followed by spells in Sweden before finally returning to America to finish his career in the USL.

Based in the town of Kemi in Finland, PS Kemi ended the 2019/2020 season as champions of Finnish Football Division ‘Kolmonen’ and gained automatic promotion to the Kakkonen for season 2020/21, the 3rd Division in Finland.  The club will be the start of a new chapter in the history of RIASA, kicking off for the first time in May, with the main aim of returning to the top tier as soon as possible.  However, during this time, any player showing exceptional talent will still have ongoing opportunities for progression.  Transfers to other European teams will be overseen by the club’s Finnish registered UEFA agent who will be at all home games and already works with some of the top sides in Finland and across Europe.

Since May 2021 the UEFA Europa Conference League also offers any qualifying Finnish teams an extra three places to help more young players to be able to experience the taste of playing European football.