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

Members of Katzie First Nation got into the spirit of Pink Shirt Day with honking, car decoration, and drumming. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Katzie First Nation recognizes Pink Shirt Day with ‘honking’ parade

Community rallies together to promote anti-bullying message

COVID-19 (Pixabay)
COVID-19 exposures at schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Alexander Robinson and Edit McDermott are latest elementary schools exposed

City council reviewed the Growing Together report, and its vision for downtown Maple Ridge.
Pocket parks, walkability, safety are highlights of Maple Ridge downtown vision

Homelessness and crime could undermine vision for city says Robson

Discover Camping reservation service opens March 8 for the 2021 camping season. (The News files)
Camping reservations for B.C. parks opens March 8

Busy season expected again this year for Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

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 late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read