Details are beginning to emerge regarding the creation and official start of the Canadian Premier League.
Canada is reportedly getting its very own professional league. While there are several clubs operating in Canada that are part of the North American Soccer League and Major League Soccer, the Canadian Premier League looks like it will exist as its own entity. The league is expectedto begin play in 2018 but if things move along quicker than expected then we could see the league kick off by 2017.
The details on the CPL came courtesy of a report by the Hamilton Tiger Cats that had to submit a proposal regarding a covering of Tim Horton’s Field for the winter season. The group had to submit several other details that were reported in the proposal submitted to the city by the Hamilton Spectator.
Some of the details that have come to light are that the league will begin with 6-8 teams all backed by owners who have current ties to the CFL or NHL. The league will also be fully sanctioned by FIFA so it will be as official as it gets, but with a strong Canadian flavor to the whole thing.
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The league is planning on building academy systems to help young Canadian soccer players find their way to the pro leagues. Nearly all the clubs in South America and Europe have fully functioning academies and it is a trend that is taking hold in MLS. It will also reportedly develop a management school to bring more Canadian coaches and executives to the forefront of the industry.
Another selling point from a nationalistic point of view is that the league will have minimums as to how many Canadians there are on each team. MLS has a North American quota that must be met but clubs like Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC have no country-specific requirements that need to be met.
Essentially what the Canadian Premier League is planning on doing is to build up the sport of soccer across the country the way that MLS has in the United States. MLS has come a long way since its inception in 1995 and is beginning to make its way deeper in to the consciousness of the American sports fan.
Canada already has a rabid soccer culture that was on full display during the 2015 Women’s World Cup so the challenge may not be as great as it was in the US to build up a buzz for the sport. The essence of all this is that no true grassroots development of the sport, and the national teams, is possible without the financial backing that a professional league will create.
The USMNT has improved exponentially since the creation of MLS and those responsible for creating the Canadian Premier League will hope for similar results. It will be interesting to see how this will impact the current MLS clubs in Canada and the Canadian players that currently play for clubs south of the border.