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coppercanuck

Not Repeating History

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I was watching a video posted on another thread ... http://www.thevoyageurs.org/forums/topic/32280-csl-any-and-all-infomemories/?do=findComment&comment=639723

 

I got thinking about the old CSL and its travel issues.  I don't believe anything has changed on this front.  Flights aren't any cheaper.  We are still talking about a single table, coast to coast.  I have not been convinced that the provincial associations are supportive of the CPL.  The rival CNSL is now labeled as the CSL and is not sanctioned by the CSA.

I need a serious history lesson to understand what happened and how the CPL plans to not make the same mistakes.  Has the appetite from the general public increased that much for soccer (nation wide) compared to my summer in Toronto in 1999 at the Toronto Lynx games?

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I am not going to get too far into it, but my perspective is that a ton has changed since 1999. The popularity of footy in Canada has grown immensely in that time IMO.  Sports channels are littered with footy.  On the cluster of various TSN and SN offerings, I can now watch EPL, Champs league, Europa League, some Bundesliga, some FA Cup, MLS, COCNACAF champs league, and V Cup - aside from the international friendlies, Euros, WC, Gold Cup and women's games.  That is a massive growth in coverage - and networks don't invest in broadcasting rights without knowing there is an appetite for the content.  

Is it a slam dunk that CPL will get lots if butts in seats?  Of course not.  They will have to do the hard work of balancing risk and investment, putting out a desirable product, building culture, promoting the league properly, etc. But if MLS has done anything, it has demonstrated that pro soccer is a viable option in this country.  

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2 hours ago, coppercanuck said:

I was watching a video posted on another thread ... http://www.thevoyageurs.org/forums/topic/32280-csl-any-and-all-infomemories/?do=findComment&comment=639723

 

I got thinking about the old CSL and its travel issues.  I don't believe anything has changed on this front.  Flights aren't any cheaper.  We are still talking about a single table, coast to coast.  I have not been convinced that the provincial associations are supportive of the CPL.  The rival CNSL is now labeled as the CSL and is not sanctioned by the CSA.

I need a serious history lesson to understand what happened and how the CPL plans to not make the same mistakes.  Has the appetite from the general public increased that much for soccer (nation wide) compared to my summer in Toronto in 1999 at the Toronto Lynx games?

We've actually discussed it many times on here. Travel is a significant cost. Probably a few hundred thousand for each team per season. 

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I don’t know if this will actually have any financial impact or not, but one thing that could potentially help the CPL cause is that it has an opportunity to plug into existing competitions. I am thinking specifically about the Voyageurs Cup, hopefully CONCACAF League and hopefully further down the road CCL. I just checked to confirm my suspicion that CSL teams didn’t compete in the CONCACAF Champions Cup back in the day. The closest to that happening was that in 1992 apparently Vancouver was scheduled to play a team from Bermuda but Vancouver withdrew. Maybe someone that was following things more seriously than me back then can recall the timing of things, but the CSL folded in 1992, likely just before or after that match up was supposed to take place.

Anyways, if teams from the CPL can play in these competitions, and in particular if they can be competitive, that could provide some interest and maybe financial gain (hopefully these endeavours make money rather than lose money but I really don’t know).

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12 hours ago, coppercanuck said:

Great find by Matthew:

Dales Barnes is not an objective source on this stuff obviously and leaves out some info that doesn't neatly fit his preferred narrative like the CSA supporting the league in 1992 by fielding the U-23 Olympic team as the London Lasers after a local owner who was in over his head financially walked away from funding the team during preseason, but to his credit he is brutally honest in places about things like how attendances got falsified and it's good to hear the dispute with the pre-existing NSL openly discussed complete with a Rocco LoFranco interview and not simply swept under the carpet. The fear for CanPL would be that not having MLS affiliates on board is the latter day version of excluding Italia and Croatia and creating another house divided. It all depends on how many spectators show up on how significant the air travel is as an expense. Crowds of under 2000 paid (remember attendances were being falsified so the announced numbers were usually a meaningless PR exercise) were very much the norm everywhere except Vancouver in the original CSL and that made air travel expenses a huge issue. Things have moved on since then but anything similar to FCE level interest of 3000 or so paid would still mean it is a very significant expense that could easily lead to similar calls for a registration levy, given full-time salaries of beyond burger flipping levels would ideally also be paid to 20+ employees.

Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard

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8 hours ago, BringBackTheBlizzard said:

Great find by Matthew:

Dales Barnes is not an objective source on this stuff obviously and leaves out some info that doesn't neatly fit his preferred narrative like the CSA supporting the league in 1992 by fielding the U-23 Olympic team as the London Lasers after a local owner who was in over his head financially walked away from funding the team during preseason, but to his credit he is brutally honest in places about things like how attendances got falsified and it's good to hear the dispute with the pre-existing NSL openly discussed complete with a Rocco LoFranco interview and not simply swept under the carpet. The fear for CanPL would be that not having MLS affiliates on board is the latter day version of excluding Italia and Croatia and creating another house divided. It all depends on how many spectators show up on how significant the air travel is as an expense. Crowds of under 2000 paid (remember attendances were being falsified so the announced numbers were usually a meaningless PR exercise) were very much the norm everywhere except Vancouver in the original CSL and that made air travel expenses a huge issue. Things have moved on since then but anything similar to FCE level interest of 3000 or so paid would still mean it is a very significant expense that could easily lead to similar calls for a registration levy, given full-time salaries of beyond burger flipping levels would ideally also be paid to 20+ employees.

I remember watching this years ago and thinking the levy was a great idea. What the CSA gets in return is infrastructure to complete the pyramid. As a soccer parent $2-$3 per kid seems like a small price to pay for more opportunities for my kids and their teammates.

 

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On 08/03/2018 at 2:39 PM, coppercanuck said:

I was watching a video posted on another thread ... http://www.thevoyageurs.org/forums/topic/32280-csl-any-and-all-infomemories/?do=findComment&comment=639723

 

I got thinking about the old CSL and its travel issues.  I don't believe anything has changed on this front.  Flights aren't any cheaper.  We are still talking about a single table, coast to coast.  I have not been convinced that the provincial associations are supportive of the CPL.  The rival CNSL is now labeled as the CSL and is not sanctioned by the CSA.

I need a serious history lesson to understand what happened and how the CPL plans to not make the same mistakes.  Has the appetite from the general public increased that much for soccer (nation wide) compared to my summer in Toronto in 1999 at the Toronto Lynx games?

The world has changed. People now have more disposable income. In 1996 Winnipeg was not a viable NHL franchise; in 2011 people were queuing around the block to make a 3-year commitment to buy a $4,000+ per year season ticket. The entire arena was sold out for 3 years solid before a puck was dropped.

I think the profile of football in North America has been raised significantly. And I believe that in relative terms, travel is cheaper now.

I certainly agree that a solid and realistic business plan is needed though.

Edited by dsqpr

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On 2018/03/09 at 6:48 PM, johnyb said:

I remember watching this years ago and thinking the levy was a great idea. What the CSA gets in return is infrastructure to complete the pyramid. As a soccer parent $2-$3 per kid seems like a small price to pay for more opportunities for my kids and their teammates.

Dale Barnes paints a very rosy picture of the condition that the CSL was in by 1990 that is more than a little bit self-serving. From what I've been told over the years the London Lasers who entered that year thought they were doing badly with crowds in the hundreds until they had been once around the league for away games and realized it was nothing out of the ordinary elsewhere as well despite the announced numbers that they had seen prior to joining the league due to teams falsifying their attendance and were left feeling they had been misled into investing in something that the people at the top must have already known was well and truly circling the drain by that point. I am no fan of the CSA but they no doubt would have seen the levy request as the thin end of the wedge on what the demands would be in future to help keep the league afloat and would have been reluctant to subsidize something that was struggling so badly to attract crowds to the extent that it could be viewed as a financial black hole from their main income source.

On 2018/03/10 at 2:00 AM, dsqpr said:

The world has changed. People now have more disposable income...

Not sure that's really true when inflation rates and changes to cost of living are factored in, and the way that formerly well paid union jobs in manufacturing pre-NAFTA have been replaced by a short-term contract gig economy is taken into account. What's more important is that interest in soccer is stronger now than it was 30 years ago, because the registration boom has happened amongst the formerly at times somewhat hostile Stephen Harper "old stock" demographic, you no longer need to watch Graham Leggat and co on TSN on a Saturday morning or tune into Toronto's multicultural channel to get your soccer fix and that means the younger generation has grown up with soccer as easy to access as baseball and the CFL, and MLS has managed to do what the NASL couldn't by finding a stable economic model for D1 soccer in North America.

The problem with operating with no big names at a significantly lower budget level than MLS is that people, if anything, are actually less likely to watch local semi-pro soccer now than used to be the case if L1O and PLSQ is compared with the 70s and early 80s era NSL given there are so many other entertainment options available now and it's not clear yet that the quality of soccer than CanPL would provide initially would be much higher than that if the focus is going to be mainly on domestic players that can't cut it in MLS or in top leagues over in Europe and on some Marco Velez and Dan Gargan level imports. There isn't a vast untapped pool of pro level quality Canadian players that are being ignored by other leagues at the moment, so crowds of 6000 to 8000 looks very optimistic as a break even, because if there's one lesson to be learned from the CSL era it is that you can't fool lots of people into believing that semi-pro level soccer is worth paying to watch by pretending you have a coast-to-coast D1 level league when you really don't in playing standards terms. In London, Ont. in 1990, Lasers crowds went from 2700 to 200 in the space of two games, because people showed up once, collectively came to the assessment that "this is crap" and most never came back.

Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard

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In terms of the quality of play, I am hopeful it can be higher then we might expect. I agree that if you come out and it is crap, you may not ever come back. 

However, to make a jump to Division 3 hockey in Germany. I was visiting Leipzig this winter and my Canadian friend and German wife took us to the Leipzig Icefighters in division 3. Hockey is my number one sport in terms of knowledge. I still play pick up in Oman, coach, and watch constantly. If I lived in Leipzig, I would be a season ticket holder based on that one game. Just to add to the scenario... the rink was actually a pop up tent style arena with about 1,500 capacity, mostly standing "seats" and division 3 Germany is a level with players who played junior B/A in Canada. The presentation was exciting and professional (despite the tent). The atmosphere was intense with both teams having a fan group. In terms of quality of play, it was not great, I could have possibly made it, but it was was good enough. 

Back to CPL... 

We have better national team player depth then I have known since following. When we were selecting teams 10-15 years ago, beyond the top guys the depth was barren. If we can get most of the European Journeymen and the minor US league players to join we will have a solid base of talent. I think as Kaye and Jakovic have demonstrated this year, many Canadians on the MLS fringe just need the chance (and a domestic label). Therefore, I think the quality can be high enough and hopefully the league will be competitive and exciting. This is why I support sprinkling in Caribbean and Central American players over fringe MLS Americans. 

Marketing of the league and at games will be the real deal breaker. Make it professional and big league and the league can stick. The CFL is significantly below the NFL in talent and yet people attend and watch. This includes places where people can reach NFL markets. Like the CFL, the CPL has the benefit of not a significant amount of games. 25 to 30 game seasons only mean 12 to 15 home games, it is easier to sell tickets and create excitement for the limited amount of games. Compared to the struggle junior hockey teams can face filling seats for 30 or so home games. 

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I personally agree wholeheartedly with the part that if you professionalise the environment and make it look appealing on tv (in the way both the CFL and MLS have and to a lesser extent lacrosse) with active fan groups, you will create the right atmosphere to attract the casual fan as well as the diehard.  

As for the quality of play, I am a believer in starting off with more foreigners whether they are concacaf players, south American or even European and African to ensure at least a reasonable quality of product and building the Canadian presence over time as the pool develops.  The CPL will definitely attract some of the fringe CDN MSL players as well as European journeyman but due to contracts and other reasons, its unlikely to attract the bulk of them in year 1.  So the prudent approach would be to start small and grow that over time.

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On 11/03/2018 at 9:02 AM, BringBackTheBlizzard said:

Not sure that's really true when inflation rates and changes to cost of living are factored in, and the way that formerly well paid union jobs in manufacturing pre-NAFTA have been replaced by a short-term contract gig economy is taken into account.

You are of course free to be as unsure as you like and to pontificate on the reasons why, but it is a fact that REAL (after inflation) DISPOSABLE income (after cost of living expenses) has risen significantly in the last few decades. At a REAL rate of 2.52% annually 1984-2007; and 2.44% annually 2008-2014, according to this article (that compounds to around an 85% increase in REAL DISPOSABLE income):

http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/402684/Economic+Analysis/Growth+in+Real+Household+Income+in+Canada+19842024

Which explains why people in Hockey Town Winnipeg were recently able to afford a $12,000 commitment when 16 years or so earlier they could not spring for enough $30 single game "reds" (2nd best seats in the house) to make the franchise viable -- a point which I see you have conveniently ignored in favour of some vague arm waving about "cost of living" and "union jobs"!!

Edited by dsqpr

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On 3/8/2018 at 3:39 PM, coppercanuck said:

 Flights aren't any cheaper.  We are still talking about a single table, coast to coast.  

Flights will most likely never be cheaper (there's always Air Canada sponsoring the league with Air Canada's CanPL, but we are not there yet).

But the flight is only an issue because of this crazy dream to make the CPL coast to coast.  Realistically you can always start the league in a concentrated population area like Ontario and let it grow organically from there. 

But of course we gotta make it truly Canadian with each metropolitan city allowed to have only one team and added with a dopey name like Montreal Frenchies or something.

Ah don't forget the comical team mascot!

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13 hours ago, MrSabiondo said:

Flights will most likely never be cheaper (there's always Air Canada sponsoring the league with Air Canada's CanPL, but we are not there yet).

But the flight is only an issue because of this crazy dream to make the CPL coast to coast.  Realistically you can always start the league in a concentrated population area like Ontario and let it grow organically from there. 

But of course we gotta make it truly Canadian with each metropolitan city allowed to have only one team and added with a dopey name like Montreal Frenchies or something.

Ah don't forget the comical team mascot!

I think you’re in for a big surprise.

And you’re right, legit football clubs don’t have comical mascots!

 

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15 hours ago, MrSabiondo said:

Flights will most likely never be cheaper (there's always Air Canada sponsoring the league with Air Canada's CanPL, but we are not there yet).

But the flight is only an issue because of this crazy dream to make the CPL coast to coast.  Realistically you can always start the league in a concentrated population area like Ontario and let it grow organically from there. 

But of course we gotta make it truly Canadian with each metropolitan city allowed to have only one team and added with a dopey name like Montreal Frenchies or something.

Ah don't forget the comical team mascot!

I believe we still have a "national" league that is based in a concentrated population area like Ontario, and it has been shrinking organically from there.

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16 hours ago, MrSabiondo said:

Flights will most likely never be cheaper (there's always Air Canada sponsoring the league with Air Canada's CanPL, but we are not there yet).

But the flight is only an issue because of this crazy dream to make the CPL coast to coast.  Realistically you can always start the league in a concentrated population area like Ontario and let it grow organically from there. 

But of course we gotta make it truly Canadian with each metropolitan city allowed to have only one team and added with a dopey name like Montreal Frenchies or something.

Ah don't forget the comical team mascot!

Oh my goodness. I’m sorry, but if you think anyone from Alberta or Sask would watch a “national league” that only plays in Ontario you are joking yourself. Albertans would rip apart the league, and if it eventually came to Alberta it would have no credibility. 

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You can also do what the Australians did and rebrand all of the existing amateur and semi-pro provincial/state leagues as "NPL". Would agree that the NSL and CPSL approach of a Toronto league pretending to be national was not and never will be the answer.

Edited by BringBackTheBlizzard

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39 minutes ago, BringBackTheBlizzard said:

You can also do what the Australians did and rebrand all of the existing amateur and semi-pro provincial/state leagues as "NPL". Would agree that the NSL and CPSL approach of a Toronto league pretending to be national was not and never will be the answer.

I think that would be a good idea. But i think we would also need major teams in the bigger cities. Maybe to start the second division of the CPL they could work with the already existing leagues and teams. That would be a much more efficient way to establish it. It is reasonable for the Pro/am teams to make up a second division, may not be fully national either. Lots of potential.

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1 hour ago, Kent said:

I believe we still have a "national" league that is based in a concentrated population area like Ontario, and it has been shrinking organically from there.

What the unsanctioned (rightfully so) CSL?  A semi-professional eague that never had any CSA oversight and no credible expansion plans in it's portfolio?

 

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1 hour ago, BenFisk'sBiggestFan said:

Oh my goodness. I’m sorry, but if you think anyone from Alberta or Sask would watch a “national league” that only plays in Ontario you are joking yourself. Albertans would rip apart the league, and if it eventually came to Alberta it would have no credibility. 

Lol.  I guess the EPL or the NFL have no credibility.  Please tell how Canadians or Northamericans are ripping these leagues apart. 

Obviously a league that is founded in a concentrated area has to be a well oiled machine professionally run to attract viewers from further parts of the nation. 

Or we could go the route of CSL of old.  Let me know how that went. 

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11 minutes ago, MrSabiondo said:

Lol.  I guess the EPL or the NFL have no credibility.  Please tell how Canadians or Northamericans are ripping these leagues apart. 

Obviously a league that is founded in a concentrated area has to be a well oiled machine professionally run to attract viewers from further parts of the nation. 

Or we could go the route of CSL of old.  Let me know how that went. 

I can’t speak for those leagues. But i can speak for albertans. They would see a league like that as a stuck up Ontario league that thinks they are the heart of Canada. Albertans in general (not me) are very touchy with Ontario. Sometimes they even despise Ontario.

This is because of the stereotype of Ontario (or Toronto) beleiving they are the center or heart of Canada, and everything good comes from there. I am not advocating for this, but just stating that Albertans are very touchy with the political side of things. I don’t want to get into all the intricacies of these opinions, but they are very relevant in the context of a “national league”.

Albertans will not support a “national league” that has 10 teams in Ontario and tries to expand from there. Albertans are prideful of their cities and they hate being left out of the national picture. There is a reason why Edmonton is still in the World Cup bid. Albertans would be very mad if they got “neglected” and didn’t get any games.

I believe this sort of thing is very important when developing a league. I am not sure Quebec would be happy with being left out of a “national league” either. If we want a National league, we need to make it national. Prideful provinces will not be happy with being left out. 

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13 minutes ago, MrSabiondo said:

What the unsanctioned (rightfully so) CSL?  A semi-professional eague that never had any CSA oversight and no credible expansion plans in it's portfolio?

 

Yes, that's the one I am referring to. You wanted a scaled back CPL, and I think that's what a scaled back CPL would look like. It would stay scaled back.

As for your comparisons with NFL and EPL, I think it's a bit foolish to assume the same things that worked 100ish years ago would still work today.

But of course your comment got me curious! I don't know anything about the first season of the NFL, so I've looked up where the inaugural teams were from. First off, there was a wide range of number of games played that first season. One team played 1 game, others played 7, 8 (3 teams), 9, 10 (3 teams), 11 (3 teams), or 13 (2 teams) games.

Also of note, according to Wikipedia "As there was no playoff system until 1932, a meeting was held to determine the 1920 Champions. Each team that showed up had a vote to determine the champions." Clanachan said there wouldn't be playoffs, maybe we'll copy the NFL in this regard? :) 

So the teams were from:
Akron Ohio
Decatur Illinois
Buffalo New York
Chicago Illinois (2 teams)
Rock Island Illinois
Dayton Ohio
Rochester New York
Canton Ohio
Detroit Michigan
Cleveland Ohio
Columbus Ohio
And two teams that didn't have a home, rather just travelled to other team's stadiums.

So yes, a small geographical area, but I'm not so certain starting a league like that would take off today.

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12 minutes ago, BenFisk'sBiggestFan said:

I can’t speak for those leagues. But i can speak for albertans. They would see a league like that as a stuck up Ontario league that thinks they are the heart of Canada. Albertans in general (not me) are very touchy with Ontario. Sometimes they even despise Ontario.

This is because of the stereotype of Ontario (or Toronto) beleiving they are the center or heart of Canada, and everything good comes from there. I am not advocating for this, but just stating that Albertans are very touchy with the political side of things. I don’t want to get into all the intricacies of these opinions, but they are very relevant in the context of a “national league”.

Albertans will not support a “national league” that has 10 teams in Ontario and tries to expand from there. Albertans are prideful of their cities and they hate being left out of the national picture. There is a reason why Edmonton is still in the World Cup bid. Albertans would be very mad if they got “neglected” and didn’t get any games.

I believe this sort of thing is very important when developing a league. I am not sure Quebec would be happy with being left out of a “national league” either. If we want a National league, we need to make it national. Prideful provinces will not be happy with being left out. 

I appreciate your response and agree that it makes sense to try to make it coast to coast from the get go in order to unite Canadians for a great cause.

My point was really looking at it from a cost saving perspective, thinking that saving the money from flights and pumping that extra cash to make the CPL really high quality while with the right marketing scheme to get further areas that don't have teams excited and interested to jump on board the hype machine.

Of course your point still stands and it's reasonable to believe that my idea would just cause ansgt and rejection from the more 'prideful' provinces.

My concern in all this is that the financials the cash willing to pump in to a coast to coast league from the get go will run out before the league becomes sustainable.

Again I am really hoping I am wrong.

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22 minutes ago, MrSabiondo said:

My concern in all this is that the financials the cash willing to pump in to a coast to coast league from the get go will run out before the league becomes sustainable.

I think the vast majority of us have that same concern, but we are excited to see it tried. You've got to spend money to make money. Half measures won't cut it.

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3 hours ago, Kent said:

I think the vast majority of us have that same concern, but we are excited to see it tried. You've got to spend money to make money. Half measures won't cut it.

Exactly my point though.  Going from the onset coast to coast will stretch the finances thin.  I just hope investors don't get jittery and expect to make a buck anytime soon.  They better understand that they better be in it for the long haul.

Thus my concentrated area comment. 

Note:  It doesn't have to be Ontario that was just an easy example.

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