Canadian Premier League
|Organising body||Canadian Soccer Association|
|Founded||May 6, 2017|
(North American Football Union)
|Number of teams||8|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Domestic cup(s)||Canadian Championship|
The Canadian Premier League (French: Première ligue canadienne) is an upcoming fully professional, Tier 1, FIFA-sanctioned soccer league expected to begin play in April 2019. Eight teams are expected to initially compete in the league, seven of which have been confirmed as of June 2018.
The Canadian Premier League will have a European-style club-based system, unlike the franchise-based system used in Major League Soccer and other North American sports leagues, with the aim of adding more teams and eventually having promotion and relegation within the Canadian soccer league system. The league's focus will be to improve national soccer talent and the sport in Canada, with a minimum quota of Canadian players on teams' rosters.
It was officially sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association on May 6, 2017, originally with a soft launch date of 2018, though this was later pushed to 2019. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario with future plans for a second office in Hamilton, Ontario.
A potential new fully professional Canadian soccer league was first reported in June 2013. The reports also suggested that Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young was part of a core group of investors working with the Canadian Soccer Association and its president Victor Montagliani to create a new set of fully professional teams or a league in Canada. The Tiger-Cats ownership group were granted exclusive rights by the Canadian Soccer Association until 2017 to establish a team that would play in the under-construction Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
In February 2016, reports of the league emerged again when Young spoke to the Hamilton City Council requesting permission to erect an air-dome over Tim Hortons Field between December 1 and April 30 yearly to allow for year-round training for his new professional soccer team which would call the stadium home. During questions by the council members, it was revealed that the name of the league would be the Canadian Premier League and that the Hamilton team was expected to be the flagship franchise. Further details were expected following the Canada Soccer Association's annual meeting in May 2016.
In a March 2016 interview, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber indicated that, from his understanding, the league would be a "lower division" of the Canadian soccer league system but he had not had discussions with organizers of the new league. Reports in June indicated that the Canadian Premier League would avoid current Major League Soccer markets.
On November 14, the first official employee of the Canadian Premier League was announced. Paul Beirne, a Canadian who was also the first employee of Toronto FC, was hired as project manager for the new league.
On April 27, 2018, the Canadian Premier League unveiled their new logo and branding. The three colours of the logo – pitch green, sky navy and ocean blue – signified the "cultural mosaic as seen through the colours in the Northern Lights." A red version will be used on Canada Day and when teams play in events like the CONCACAF Champions League and the Canadian Championship. The emblem features three main aspects – the North Star to act as a "beacon for talent", four rings to signify a ball, the Canadian coasts and the earth, and the maple leaf to reflect the country.
Two days later, it was announced by Beirne that teams would be revealed on an almost-weekly basis. On May 5, the Canadian Soccer Association accepted club memberships for Halifax, York Region, Calgary, and Port City, confirming their acceptance into the league. It was confirmed on June 1 that the Port City ownership group's team would be based in Vancouver Island, ending speculation that the team would be located in Surrey.
The unveiling of the first team, York 9 FC, took place on May 10, with co-owners Jim Brennan and Preben Ganzhorn joined by Beirne and Clanachan. This was followed by Calgary-based Cavalry FC on May 17, 2018, Halifax's HFX Wanderers FC on May 25, Valour FC in Winnipeg on June 6, and the rebranded former NASL side FC Edmonton on June 8. After a break from announcements to accommodate the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Hamilton's Forge FC was the next unveiling on July 12, followed by Pacific FC of Vancouver Island on July 20.
On January 10, 2018, David Clanachan, former president and COO of Tim Hortons, was named as the first commissioner of the league. On January 24, he announced that Paul Beirne had been named president. Having already worked with the league for over a year, Beirne took on the role of managing the day-to-day league operations. On January 31, the Canadian Premier League announced that James Easton, a former Canadian international, has been named Vice-President of Soccer Operations.
In April 2018, commissioner Clanachan said that the league is looking at implementing a club-based structure for the Canadian Premier League, rather than a franchise-based system like in Major League Soccer. He also said that he dreams of a day where there are two or three divisions, with promotion and relegation between them.
|Team||City/Region||Stadium||Capacity||Founded||First season||Head coach|
|Canadian Premier League|
|Cavalry FC||Calgary, Alberta||Spruce Meadows||5,000||2018||2019||Tommy Wheeldon Jr.|
|FC Edmonton||Edmonton, Alberta||Clarke Stadium||5,000||2009[a]||2019||Jeff Paulus|
|Forge FC||Hamilton, Ontario||Tim Hortons Field||14,000[b]||2017||2019||TBD|
|HFX Wanderers FC||Halifax, Nova Scotia||Wanderers Grounds||5,000–7,000||2018||2019||Stephen Hart|
|Pacific FC||Vancouver Island, British Columbia||Westhills Stadium||7,500[c]||2018||2019||TBD|
|Valour FC||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Investors Group Field||33,234||2017||2019||Rob Gale|
|York 9 FC||York Region, Ontario||York Lions Stadium[d]||6,000–8,000[e]||2018||2019||TBD|
- FC Edmonton was originally founded in 2009 and played in the North American Soccer League, but ceased professional operations in 2017 and continued to run their academy program. In 2018, FC Edmonton announced they would resume professional operations and compete in the Canadian Premier League.
- Tim Hortons Field has a normal capacity of 23,218 but will be limited to 14,000 for Forge FC games.
- Westhills Stadium currently has a capacity of 1,718, but will be increased before Pacific FC's first season.
- York 9 FC plans to build and move into a modular 15,000 seat stadium in York Region.
- York 9 FC will add temporary seating to increase the original 3,700 capacity.
Several teams have been rumoured to be home to franchises in the Canadian Premier League's inaugural 2019 season. Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Vancouver Island, Winnipeg, and York Region teams have all now been unveiled or confirmed by the league for its 2019 season. It has been rumoured that existing USL side Ottawa Fury FC will join the league in 2019, fuelled by acquisitions of Canadian players prior to their 2018 season. In an interview with The Chronicle Herald on June 28, 2018, after being named HFX Wanderers FC's head coach, Stephen Hart implied that Ottawa Fury FC would be part of the 2019 season.
In 2017, Soccer New Brunswick expressed interest in bringing a professional team to Moncton within the next three years. A Saskatchewan-based ownership group is also planning a team in either Regina or Saskatoon. There has also been mention of a possible team in Quebec City or Sherbrooke. The city of Mississauga, Ontario, has been approached by the league about a stadium for a possible team.
In a conference call with a number of predominant support groups that formed in anticipation of the Canadian Premier League, Beirne told the groups his vision for the teams participating in the league, stating that while it's not known how many teams will form the league, he anticipated six teams will begin the first season. However, the seventh and eighth team will already be known. Beirne also stated that he hopes that the league will eventually grow to 12 teams within ten years of forming. These figures later grew to 8 to 10 teams for the opening season with the possibility of 12 teams by 2020. During the Cavalry FC launch, Clanachan mentioned there are conversations with 22 markets across the country. At the Forge FC launch Clanachan stated that the league wants two to four expansion clubs for 2020.
Although foreign players and staff would be permitted by roster regulations, the intention of the league is to foster Canadian talent and develop Canadian coaches. The league will establish a quota of the minimum number of Canadians on each roster similar to American player requirements in Major League Soccer. Although three Canadian teams compete in MLS (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC) there are currently no such roster requirements for Canadian players, although CSA president Victor Montagliani had previously stated that changes to these rules were imminent. Following the release of initial league details, it was rumoured that 75% of all players on each roster would be required to be Canadian.
In June 2018, Clanachan revealed in an interview with TSN Radio that there will be a draft system to help fill rosters for the inaugural season. There will also be a system designed to protect players within their local regions, which Clanachan branded as "more sophisticated" than a regular draft.
In July 2018, Clanachan told The Hamilton Spectator that the league would have a salary cap, and that rosters would contain 23 to 25 players, with a requirement that half of them be Canadian and at least 6 of the 11 players on the field at any time would need to be Canadian. Clanachan further clarified that players would be drawn from five pools, or general sources: a foundational group of established Canadian professionals; up-and-coming Canadians who are just starting out or currently in lower-league teams (either domestically or elsewhere); players associated with a team's home territory, in order to ensure "hometown heroes" on a roster; players in the Canadian university and college system; and finally, the general open market of worldwide talent.
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