After a meeting of potential ownership groups yesterday, it looks like the Canadian Premier League is set to announce an eight-team lineup for the 2019 season, including FC Edmonton.
Barring some last-minute changes, the eight cities/provinces hosting inaugural CPL teams are Edmonton, Calgary, British Columbia, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax, Ottawa and North York, Ont. In Winnipeg and Hamilton, the CPL squads will be owned and operated by Canadian Football League teams. In Calgary, it looks like Foothills FC will enter the CPL. In Edmonton, it’s the former NASL operators who will run the team. There are some interesting markets here: in the past it was rumored Ottawa Fury would shift to the CPL from USL, so the expected announcement this week as to the Ottawa team should be interesting.
In any case, we’ll have plenty of time to digest the lineup: the league plans to unveil one team as a time over the course of several weeks. From the Edmonton Sun:
“As of next week, we will start to do club launches, one a week for the next six to seven weeks,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan. “As we do that, we think it’s very important to do it at the community level. I think it’s the community and the supporters that deserve to have the celebration, because in my opinion, they won the lottery being able to get a professional sports franchise in their town.”
The goal of the CPL is to eventually expand throughout the country with upwards of 20 teams competing in the league. Clanachan said there are discussions with over 20 regions throughout the country regarding teams in the league and would not disclose how many ownership groups attended their meeting.
“This is really soccer by Canadians for Canadians and we’ve really zeroed in on that,” Clanachan said. “Our philosophy is that we need to know where we are and grow and we need to grow each year. We’re coast to coast and we’re taking it right across Canada and that’s important to us.”
For FC Edmonton, the formation of the CPL is a happy ending to a year-long ordeal that saw the NASL stop play and launch a legal battle against the U.S. Soccer Federation. While some NASL teams jumped ship to rival USL and some decided to play in the NPSL in secondary squads, FC Edmonton owners decided to take a break from competition while keeping its youth academy open. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainly surrounding FC Edmonton: an effort to renovate and manage Clarke Stadium is facing resistance from the Edmonton Eskimos, which uses Clarke as a practice facility. There’s also the possibility of FC Edmonton playing out of Re/Max Field, the former Triple-A ballpark now used for summer-collegiate play.
Image courtesy NASL.
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