Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Premier League-Darren Goldstein **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Premier League-Darren Goldstein **MANDATORY CREDIT**

CPL targets season kickoff on Victoria Day Weekend, providing authorities agree

League acknowledges that plans will depend on COVID situation

The Canadian Premier League is targeting the Victoria Day long weekend in May as the kickoff for its third season.

However, the league acknowledges that will ultimately depend on local government and health authorities.

“Our plans call for the start of play this spring — while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation’s progress against this pandemic,” commissioner David Clanachan said in a letter to fans.

“Based on where we are right now, if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) — Canada’s ‘unofficial start of summer.’ To that end, we will remain flexible but also adaptable in our planning. To be clear, our ultimate goal is to see our supporters in the stands as we take to the field.”

The league acknowledges opening the doors to any number of spectators again is a decision that will be made by others.

“It feels like we need to preface everything with at the end of the day the government and health authorities rule here. As they should, for all the right reasons,” Clanachan said in an interview.

Clanachan holds out the hope that Canada — and the world — “will look a lot different than it does today” because of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He says the CPL board has discussed what might happen if fans remain barred but has made no decision.

“As you can imagine there’s concerns on both side of the equation,” he said,

While gate revenue is “huge” for the CPL, Clanachan said league owners are committed to getting the season in. “They understand how important it is that we play.”

“We’re still an infant league, although we tend to want to punch above our weight.”

The hope is to have each of the eight teams play a normal 28-game season with the league currently looking at a number of scheduling models. Options include sticking to shorter trips earlier in the season to reduce travel and to package away games to be efficient.

A schedule could be released in a month or so, he said.

The 2020 season was originally slated to run from April 11 to Oct. 4. The pandemic shelved that plan with the league eventually playing the Island Games, a truncated tournament in Charlottetown, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 6.

The 2019 inaugural regular season ran April 27 to Oct. 19, divided into spring and fall campaigns.

Hamilton’s Forge FC won the league title both years.

Clanachan said the league continues to talk with “a number of groups” interested in expansion despite the pandemic. But he says the time is not right given the pandemic.

The CPL has also announced that young Canadians will see more action in 2021 with clubs now required to give at least 1,500 minutes of combined playing time to domestic players under the age of 21.

The requirement previously for U-21 players was 1,000 minutes (pro-rated to 250 minutes at the Island Games). As before, CPL clubs must have at least three U-21 Canadian players signed on their rosters. The rule covers player born Jan. 1, 2000 or later.

The league says the U-21 minutes requirement was met or exceeded by all clubs. In 2020, Winnipeg’s Valour FC led the way with a total of1,532 minutes. In 2019, Pacific FC recorded 13,532 minutes.

READ MORE: CFL cancels 2020 season during pandemic, ends 100-plus year run for Grey Cup

The league says it provided 43,000 minutes of playing time to young Canadians across its first two seasons.

“Part of the mission of the Canadian Premier League is to foster the growth of young Canadian soccer players,” James Easton, the league’s vice-president of football operations, said in a statement.

“The success to date of our under-21 player minutes is a testament to the quality that exists across Canada, which is now being served in a meaningful way by the opportunities provided by the CPL and is why we have decided to increase the minutes for young Canadian players.”

—-

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CFLCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Fort St. James fire department photo/Facebook)
Fort St. James fire department celebrating 66 years

The department hopes to have a community-based celebration at 70

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read