The Canadian Premier League revealed the CPL Trophy in front of media and fans Friday: The North Star Shield. CPL commissioner David Clanachan unveiled the newly designed North Star Shield at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Ontario.
— CanPL (@CPLsoccer) October 25, 2019
Introducing The North Star Shield
Rather than a traditional cup or shield, the CPL went a different route for their winners’ trophy.
“The North Star Shield is made of solid crystal and sits on a Canadian Maple base,” said the CPL in a press release. “It measures 35 centimetres (14 inches) in diameter by four centimetres (1.5 inches), and weighs approximately seven kilos (15 pounds).
It also features a 3D laser engraving of the CPL’s crest, and a diamond etching within the CPL’s crest to refract light.”
Not the Only News
In addition to the trophy reveal, Clanachan also spent time talking about the inaugural season and the plans for next season.
Clanachan was very frank about the task ahead of the CPL brass.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done as a league … it’s a good start,” Clanachan said. “We’re going to have to be better.”
The commissioner noted that a priority for season two is keeping interest in the league after the initial buzz wears off.
“We have to be better at everything,” Clanachan said. “We came into the league this year … everybody was voting for us.”
One particular piece of news from Clanachan about keeping interest was that there are three cities who are close to finalizing deals to join the CPL. Clanachan admitted that getting those teams in for 2020 would be difficult, but didn’t rule it out as a possibility.
The issue for many potential clubs is stadiums.
“The logjam that has to be broken in this country is physical stadiums to play in,” Clanachan said. He was very emphatic in further saying that “we will not play in stadiums that have Canadian Football lines on them.”
Expansion talk is always exciting, and there has been open interest from Quebec and Alex Bunbury’s Laval-based venture, as well as Saskatchewan. It would be a major coup for the league if they could manage to get either club into the mix for next year. Clanachan said he expects to make some announcements in the next 30 days.
Ottawa Still Shy
Another club that is in the rumour mill is USL’s Ottawa Fury. The Fury was close to joining the CPL in its inaugural season but pulled out at the last moments. Clanachan said that the rivalries are an attractive prospect for the ownership and that the relationship between the league and the Fury is a positive one.
Clanachan also mentioned that with Canada Soccer Business acquiring League1 Ontario last year, the early stages of growing the women’s game have already begun. He did not give a timeline, but stated that “we’ve got something we can build off of.”
Reflecting on the First Year
When asked about the inaugural season’s highs and lows, the commissioner was effusive in his praise of the players.
“We have over 110 players who for the first time this year are earning a paycheque playing the game of football,” Clanachan said. He went on to praise the overwhelming amount of minutes handed out to Canadians and young players across the league.
The commissioner was also quick to point out Forge’s CONCACAF League successes as a real advertisement for the quality of the league and highlighted it as a major achievement, especially in year one.
Finally, Clanachan praised the players that earned call-ups to their national teams. Canadian players Marco Carducci and Amer Didic both earned the call to represent Les Rouges, while a handful of other players went on to represent their home nations. Two Forge players, Emery Welshman and Quillan Roberts, represented Guyana at the Gold Cup.
Scheduling Changes afoot
When asked about his biggest disappointment after one season, Clanachan was quick to point to the schedule.
“We put our clubs, our coaches, and more importantly our players through a very tough start to the season. We packed a ton into that first part of the season,” Clanachan said. “And it didn’t get much easier after that.”
Clanachan went on to say that they have four distinct scheduling options on the table for next year. The inaugural season was very unbalanced; the spring season only being 10 games, and the fall season being nearly twice as long at 18.
The Canadian Premier League Trophy isn’t the only thing on the line for Forge and Cavalry. An announcement that the winner of the 2019 Canadian Premier League will qualify for CONCACAF League in 2020 raised the stakes for the finals. This helps sort out the much-maligned process for qualification in 2019, where Forge, Valour, and FC Edmonton competed for the right to represent the CPL.
With the finals just around the corner, Clanachan admitted that season two “starts November 3rd.”
The commissioner is confident that next season will be a resounding success.