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CSA, CFL and NASL to launch Canadian league


CSN has confirmed that the CSA is involved in negotiations with the CFL and NASL to launch an all-Canadian league.

There could be as many as seven teams involved, all affiliated with local CFL teams and playing in CFL stadiums.

Hamilton's Bob Young is said to be the leading voice on the CFL side. The Ti-Cats owner was previously involved in professional soccer in Carolina. Although he had a falling out with Traffic Sports, sources say that relationship has been healed.

The league would likely begin play in 2016, which the possibility of up to two teams coming in for 2015 (Hamilton and Calgary have been suggested).

The three MLS markets will likely opt out. There is no word on whether teams independent of CFL teams (with the exception of the pre-existing FC Edmonton) will be considered. It's likely that such arrangements would be considered after the league was established.

The league would be affiliated with the American NASL. The format would likely resemble Major League Baseball with two distinct leagues operating in close cooperation. There would be some inter-league play and the Soccer Bowl would likely be played between the two champions.

CSN reached out to the CSA. We will update their response when we receive it. Attempts were also made to reach the CFL.


38 Comments

I wonder if the teams would be branded independently of the cfl teams or if they would carry their brand?

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would these teams compete in Canada cup?

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If I were them I'd keep team colours and identities but use alternate names to avoid confusion. Sure they'd compete in the Canada Cup just as Cdn NASL teams do now!
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I know Bob Young said he's probably have a naming contest. If they were smart they'd keep colors somewhat affiliated with their CFL team, but that's something best left up to marketing. You do want to keep fans happy with color continuity for your city, but you also don't want people not buying merch because "my Stamps gear is close enough"

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Duane,

You might have missed i wrote the following on the rpb site on june 25.

"Ok. Please dont jump on me too hard for this, but...

the story/rumour i have heard includes the CFL, their owners and their stadia. Spearheaded by Bob Young of Hamilton, the idea of creating a canadian soccer league, complete with single ownership structure (league owns player contracts mls style etc). Just one step down from mls. More like a canadian nasl without the nasl free for all on players. TSN is driving it from a content need since they have lost so much to rogers. The existing CFL group can piggy back on so much infrastructure that others can not to manage costs, the CSA is favourable and continues to block US based leagues from bringning teams to Canada. A mostly summer league so players can come in after mls has started and wrap up mid Oct.. I was also told that MLSE is one of the drivers trying to create valuable content for TSN to pay for.

i have heard this from a CFL source and privately from a broadcaster. I have been trying to get more details over the last week but so far no luck. All the good soccer media are preoccupied..."

Let me know if you want to follow up
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"Canada Cup" ??

 

It's the Voyageurs Cup. The tournament is the Canadian Championship.

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I will fucking murder them all if anything Riders gets associated to a team in this province.
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Wow! I really hope this comes to fruition!

 

The NASL is in a precarious place in it's development. It needs expansion to solidify it's places in the NA sports market, but at the same time it also needs stability in terms of the viability of it's teams. It only has a handful of teams, none of which are in 1st rate markets, and all of which probably loose money. If even as little as 2 of it's teams went under at this point, it would probably call the entire league's viability into question. That is what slows down it's expansion, but at the same time they need expansion to survive and solidify their place in the North American sports market. Given that, this arrangement would make sense on a lot of levels for both parties:

 

- The CFL is the only non-USA based, major sports league in Canada.

- Outside of their new team in Ottawa, the CFL has little room for growth within it's own market, whereas soccer is a potential growth market that could open up entire new revenue streams for their owners.

- There are synergies that CFL ownership groups can utilize - marketing, stadia/infrastructure, sports med/science, community connections - which can allowing them to create a competitive and highly professional product at a discount price.

- 1 current CFL owner already has an NASL team, 2 are known to have expressed interest. That's 3 down, 3 to go, and Winnipeg's new stadium was specifically designed to host soccer games as well.

- The CFL ownership groups are exactly the kind of experience sports business operators that the NASL is likely looking to partner with, and would bring stability, and a proven track-records that would add a great deal of credibility to the league. Not to mention the fact that on a global scale, the CFL is actually something like top 25 in the world for attendance across all sports (averages more than the NHL, or MLS last time I checked). This means CFL teams would get a lot cheaper access to credit and have much lower capital costs than practically any other sports business partners the NASL could hope to incorporate into the league.

- For some reason, the CFL aside, Canadian sports fans have become some habituated to cross border leagues that the average sports fan would see a Canada only league as inferior, whereas affiliation with NASL, even if each league was run more or less independently, could possibly give the league (or division) the necessary street-cred to get Canadian butts in seats.

 

Makes sense all round. I really hope they can iron out the details. If this all works out we could have something like 3 D1 teams with 3 D3 affiliates, and 7 D2 teams in 5 years time. That's a pretty healthy soccer pyramid.

 

That domestic professional teams, which is probably enough to at least double, the number of Canadians making a living playing soccer globally.

 

Interestingly enough, if your read the Easton Report, one of their conclusions from analyzing various nations, and their number of professional soccer teams relative to their world ranking, was that the number of fully professional clubs, before a country started experiencing diminishing returns from additional professional clubs was actually 11. E.g. Think of it this way: Australia with 9 professional clubs, isn't much worse than Japan, with 40, which isn't much worse than England with 90. The largest benefit per pro club comes from the first 11 clubs, after which there are diminishing returns. If this NASL/CFL arrangement works out, it would likely get us to this 11 club critical threshold. Expansion to something like 10 clubs is probably going to happen anyways, but unlike other routes to expansion, under this path, Canadian players won't perpetually be 2nd class "domestics" in their own league, and Canadian clubs routinely starting line-ups with less than 3 Canadians would be the exception, not the norm.

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Winnipeg Fury
Jul 10 2014 11:00 PM

When can I buy season-tickets  ?   :)

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sounds horrible.

 

A national league for Canada sounds great, but I'm reallly not interested (at all) in seeing soccer played on plastic grass covered in gridiron lines.

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Believe It When I See It
Jul 10 2014 11:11 PM

Victoria Highlanders in black and gold, Calgary Chinooks in red and white, Edmonton Drillers (come on, FC Edmonton is lame) in blue and black, Saskatoon FC in green and yellow, Winnipeg FC in blue and gold, London City FC in white and green, Hamilton Steelers in yellow and black, Ottawa Fury in red and black, CF Ville de Quebec in light blue, and Halifax Clippers in navy blue. Canada can support 10 pro teams below MLS. If this happens I will gladly eat crow about the CSA, and watch in amazement as one or two NWSL franchises are created in Canada (Van and either Tor or Mtl).

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sounds horrible.

 

A national league for Canada sounds great, but I'm reallly not interested (at all) in seeing soccer played on plastic grass covered in gridiron lines.

Let me get this straight... you would turn down an all Canadian D2 league with 7 new pro-clubs, and doubling the number of Canadian pro soccer players, because you miss the smell of grass and some white lines are offensive to your eyes. Brilliant. I think I'm personally prepared to suck it up. And by the way, the CFL owners aren't dumb. They must know most soccer fans hate football lines, and the NASL has state it won't accept new teams with stadia with football lines, and I'm sure something would get sorted out. And even if it doesn't, seriously, is that really a deal breaker for you?

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CorbeauNoir
Jul 11 2014 05:18 AM

Wow! I really hope this comes to fruition!

 

The NASL is in a precarious place in it's development. It needs expansion to solidify it's places in the NA sports market, but at the same time it also needs stability in terms of the viability of it's teams. It only has a handful of teams, none of which are in 1st rate markets, and all of which probably loose money. If even as little as 2 of it's teams went under at this point, it would probably call the entire league's viability into question. That is what slows down it's expansion, but at the same time they need expansion to survive and solidify their place in the North American sports market. Given that, this arrangement would make sense on a lot of levels for both parties:

 

- The CFL is the only non-USA based, major sports league in Canada.

- Outside of their new team in Ottawa, the CFL has little room for growth within it's own market, whereas soccer is a potential growth market that could open up entire new revenue streams for their owners.

- There are synergies that CFL ownership groups can utilize - marketing, stadia/infrastructure, sports med/science, community connections - which can allowing them to create a competitive and highly professional product at a discount price.

- 1 current CFL owner already has an NASL team, 2 are known to have expressed interest. That's 3 down, 3 to go, and Winnipeg's new stadium was specifically designed to host soccer games as well.

- The CFL ownership groups are exactly the kind of experience sports business operators that the NASL is likely looking to partner with, and would bring stability, and a proven track-records that would add a great deal of credibility to the league. Not to mention the fact that on a global scale, the CFL is actually something like top 25 in the world for attendance across all sports (averages more than the NHL, or MLS last time I checked). This means CFL teams would get a lot cheaper access to credit and have much lower capital costs than practically any other sports business partners the NASL could hope to incorporate into the league.

- For some reason, the CFL aside, Canadian sports fans have become some habituated to cross border leagues that the average sports fan would see a Canada only league as inferior, whereas affiliation with NASL, even if each league was run more or less independently, could possibly give the league (or division) the necessary street-cred to get Canadian butts in seats.

 

Makes sense all round. I really hope they can iron out the details. If this all works out we could have something like 3 D1 teams with 3 D3 affiliates, and 7 D2 teams in 5 years time. That's a pretty healthy soccer pyramid.

 

That domestic professional teams, which is probably enough to at least double, the number of Canadians making a living playing soccer globally.

 

Interestingly enough, if your read the Easton Report, one of their conclusions from analyzing various nations, and their number of professional soccer teams relative to their world ranking, was that the number of fully professional clubs, before a country started experiencing diminishing returns from additional professional clubs was actually 11. E.g. Think of it this way: Australia with 9 professional clubs, isn't much worse than Japan, with 40, which isn't much worse than England with 90. The largest benefit per pro club comes from the first 11 clubs, after which there are diminishing returns. If this NASL/CFL arrangement works out, it would likely get us to this 11 club critical threshold. Expansion to something like 10 clubs is probably going to happen anyways, but unlike other routes to expansion, under this path, Canadian players won't perpetually be 2nd class "domestics" in their own league, and Canadian clubs routinely starting line-ups with less than 3 Canadians would be the exception, not the norm.

 

Sorry, I don't really buy it

 

-The NASL is expanding at an almost reckless rate right now, to the point where prospective franchises are having significant hiccups trying to get started, or getting poached into the USL for greater control under MLS. Right now the NASL feels like it's another WHA (or, uh, the old NASL) time bomb waiting to happen.

 

-Going to a game with 3000 people in a stadium that seats 30000 sucks. A lot. I'm not sure you're quite fathoming what a miserable experience it is as a fan. CFL stadiums are the worst places possible for an NASL team to play in (FC Edmonton fans can no doubt attest to this). Being supported by CFL teams is fine but there needs to be provisions for dedicated fields that are scaled for typical NASL-sized crowds, otherwise people are going to lose interest.

 

-speaking of losing fan interest, the reason Canadian leagues are generally tied to the States is because a dedicated Canadian league that doesn't have American money and the draw of playing in American markets, especially in soccer, would have a godawful on-field product. You really think CFL money is going to be able to financially compete with American franchises for international talent? Relying on Canada's national soccer talent is the butt of jokes will be disastrous for growing popular interest in the game. This is even if that league in question involved the country's three biggest cities - which it doesn't. You want to talk diminishing returns? Imagine the Premiership if London, Manchester, and Liverpool didn't participate in it. Or La Liga without Madrid or Barcelona. How far down the talent tree do you think they're going to have to go to find players desperate enough to play in Regina or Moncton for pocket change in front of 1500 people who are only there because tickets are practically free? Who is going to want to watch that product when every Saturday TSN nationally broadcasts Canadian MLS teams in large cosmopolitan cities featuring (by NA soccer standards) far better homegrown and international players in 20k-seat stadiums? Cross-border play is the only real hope this league has to attract talent, otherwise NASL is going to have to employ some major incentives in order to keep its American and Canadian halves even marginally balanced.

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CanadianFan1
Jul 11 2014 06:08 AM

People, listen to what CorbeauNoir is saying.

He has it 100% correct.

Nothing more to add.

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I'm not worried about football lines at this point.

 

Ottawa has a machine to switch the paint in time for both teams, Hamilton should be the same.

 

I expect no different from a Winnipeg, Regina or Calgary team. And Edmonton already has it's own (plastic) pitch.

 

 

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would be pumped to get a Hamilton Steelers jersey!!!!!

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twosidestoastory
Jul 11 2014 06:52 AM

You ever want to see Canada develop quality players consistently?   Pray this is true.

 

Easy to focus on what could go wrong but if \canada doesn't make a bold, decisive move like this, might as well quit playing this game at the "competitive" level.  As it is, we are largely a house league soccer nation.  1st world in terms of wealth, 4th world in terms of soccer (because 3rd world soccer nations are further ahead than we are)

 

Someone says a canadian league can't work because we don't have the draw of US cities?  what kind of stupidity is that?  How is playing Minnesota a draw?   how is playing Indianapolis a draw??  

 

I want to see Hamilton vs. Toronto (or Mississauga, or Vaughan or Ottawa).  Let's have Regina vs. Winnipeg. Lets have pride in one canadian community doing battle against another canadian community to see who is doing good work and who isn't.   This is the only meaningful measuring stick there is in the sport (not who has the best provincial program or who registers the most 5 year olds each summer).  please stop relegating ourselves to being 2nd class citizens in US leagues that do NOT care about us, do not want us to be succcessful and are only interested in our dollars and our more mature soccer culture

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I'm having a hard time seeing how this fits with Commissioner Peterson's stated goal of having a single table league by 2018. Especially if the Soccer Bowl ends up being a competition between the Canadian & American divisions. I'm all for more Canadian expansion but at first glance this seems like conflicting goals.

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I'm having a hard time seeing how this fits with Commission Peterson's stated goal of having a single table league by 2018. Especially if the Soccer Bowl ends up being a competition between the Canadian and American divisions. I'm all for more Canadian expansion but these seem like conflicting goals.

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This sounds interesting, but I don't know how long the CFL teams would be able to support the soccer side of things if they can't break even. Also, they won't have enough Canadian high-level coaches (I can only name four myself) or enough players to field a mostly-Canadian squad.

 

The only way I can see this working is if the stakeholders are committed to running this league at a loss for at least 10 years before it becomes profitable and the feeder leagues (like Ontario League 1) provide the Canadian talent - much like the MLS was before Toronto came on board in 2007 and they started the USL-Pro affiliations.

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CorbeauNoir
Jul 11 2014 03:18 PM

Let me get this straight... you would turn down an all Canadian D2 league with 7 new pro-clubs, and doubling the number of Canadian pro soccer players, because you miss the smell of grass and some white lines are offensive to your eyes. Brilliant. I think I'm personally prepared to suck it up. And by the way, the CFL owners aren't dumb. They must know most soccer fans hate football lines, and the NASL has state it won't accept new teams with stadia with football lines, and I'm sure something would get sorted out. And even if it doesn't, seriously, is that really a deal breaker for you?

 

It's a small issue that indicates the bigger problem: these teams shouldn't be sharing stadiums in the first place. Soccer-specific stadiums have been a hugely successful element of MLS' long term strategy. Having dedicated stadia provides a facility that treats the team as its most important tenant. It can be sized to more properly suit the team's fanbase. It makes cities financially invested in the success of the team. Construction of a major piece of sports infastructure draws local attention to the fact that a team exists.

 

Dropping a second-division soccer team into a CFL field have precisely none of those benefits. 3-5 thousand people are going to be spread out in a 30-40000-seat stadium, hate the empty atmosphere, and spread negetive word of mouth about the experience. It also means teams can be easily dissolved or moved with zero incentive from the city or from the CFL to make it work.

 

If there's any hope to make this survive beyond a couple of years there NEEDS to be a commitment from the CFL to establish affiliated NASL teams into their own fields in the near future. Setting up small 5000-seat stadiums with bleacher seating isn't going to break the bank and the benefits to the team are substantial. Otherwise this entire venture is going to be a waste of time and money.

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CorbeauNoir
Jul 11 2014 03:36 PM
Someone says a canadian league can't work because we don't have the draw of US cities?  what kind of stupidity is that?  How is playing Minnesota a draw?   how is playing Indianapolis a draw?? 

 

Hellooooo, Mcflyyyyy, have you not been reading the news in the NHL over the last few decades? Even in a league for a sport Canadians regard as a religion, high level homegrown talent has been willingly escaping Canadian markets in droves. Athletes DO NOT WANT to play in Canada even if money is no object, and yes cities like Minnesota are the places they'd rather be.

 

So again I ask: if we can't even retain our country's best players in a league where those players would be treated like kings and in the country's largest, most cosmopolitan cities, what exactly is the incentive for 'talent' in a second-rate north american soccer league to stick around where they'll be lucky to draw in a couple thousand spectators in a tiny city that has absolutely nothing going for it? Minnesota and Indianapolis might as well be New York or Chicago compared to some CFL cities, why wouldn't they jump to those markets if given the option? There are players already willingly jumping to those markets when the likes of Toronto or Vancouver is an option, what chance is Regina or Hamilton or Halifax ever going to have? If they have any possibly opportunity to get out and get paid more to play in better cities in front of more people they'll take it. Appropriately, just like the CFL.

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Matthew Keip
Jul 11 2014 03:57 PM

I don't know why people don't think that this isn't a great idea with the CFL teaming with the NASL.  All of these new CFL stadiums need tenants and and dates to make to make these stadiums viable.  This is very similar to the start of the BAA the forerunner of the NBA, as the BAA was started as hockey arena owners needed more tenats for there hockey arenas so they started a basketball league, so this has some precedent here in North America.

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I have mixed feelings about this.  We absolutely need a viable league of our own, but I'm worried about how well this potential league will do in CFL stadiums.

 

As for people worried about there not being enough Canadian talent to fill an all Canadian league, that's kind of the point.  We won't get enough talent if we don't do things like this to build up the player pool.  The only other alternative I see is to get another 1 or 2 div 3 leagues (to go with PLSQ and L1O) and after a while take some of the better div 3 teams to create a div 2 national league.

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It's a small issue that indicates the bigger problem: these teams shouldn't be sharing stadiums in the first place. Soccer-specific stadiums have been a hugely successful element of MLS' long term strategy. Having dedicated stadia provides a facility that treats the team as its most important tenant. It can be sized to more properly suit the team's fanbase. It makes cities financially invested in the success of the team. Construction of a major piece of sports infastructure draws local attention to the fact that a team exists.

 

Dropping a second-division soccer team into a CFL field have precisely none of those benefits. 3-5 thousand people are going to be spread out in a 30-40000-seat stadium, hate the empty atmosphere, and spread negetive word of mouth about the experience. It also means teams can be easily dissolved or moved with zero incentive from the city or from the CFL to make it work.

 

If there's any hope to make this survive beyond a couple of years there NEEDS to be a commitment from the CFL to establish affiliated NASL teams into their own fields in the near future. Setting up small 5000-seat stadiums with bleacher seating isn't going to break the bank and the benefits to the team are substantial. Otherwise this entire venture is going to be a waste of time and money.

CorbeauNoir, I think watching Fury games will give you an idea as to how they plan to run this. OSEG, who own both the NASL Ottawa Fury and the CFL Ottawa RedBlacks, are only opening the lower section of the South Stands at the new stadium for Fury games (about 5000 seats). The other sections and North stand will be blocked off to ensure that fans will cluster and atmosphere will be generated (as well as save on requiring additional concession stand attendees/ushers etc), thereby reducing overhead. As demand for the product increases, they'll open more sections.

 

I see the CFL stadiums scalling down the seating much like they do at Whitecaps games at BC Place. I think the technology makes this doable.

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