Canada’s efforts to land it’s own professional soccer league are beginning to coming together. As first reported by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator, the proposed Canadian Premier League has settled down in Hamilton, Ontario, where it would likely be headquartered. Hamilton, which is Ontario’s second largest city after Toronto, would also be home to one of the debut franchises.
The league will be fully sanctioned by FIFA and will be a full partner of the Canadian Soccer Association. It hopes to begin play for 2017 or 2018 with “six to eight teams with deep pocketed ownership,” according to the Spectator report. That ownership group includes Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young. Former Scottish-Canadian player John McGrane says the league will “be a CFL-NHL mix of ownership,”
No cities, other than Hamilton, have been specifically tied to the league. Canada currently has five professional teams of it’s own. Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and Vancouver Whitecaps currently play in MLS. FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury are in the second division NASL. Both leagues are based in the United States and have no obligations to play Canadian players, something the CPL is hoping to implement.
The league hopes to build its player base on both Canadian and foreign players, but it wants teams to be required to field a mostly Canadian squad. The Hamilton proposal also includes the development of an academy that will not only develop local players, but groom executives and managers, In fact, McGrane wants to keep the league as Canadian as possible. From the Spectator:
“We want to Canadianize the whole league, not just the players,” McGrane said. “We’re looking at a whole culture of executives, managers and so forth. We don’t want to import them.”
The CSA is expected to pass their approval of the league, and this system of Canadian players, at their next general meeting in March.