Canada — The men’s game in Canada may get a boost. Simon Fudge, a long-term soccer journalist, tweeted out that sanctioning issues Canadian clubs faced in USL League One and Two could result in a second-tier division soccer league.
According to Fudge, this league would run from May to August.
He revealed on the Two Solitudes Podcast with Kevin Laramee that these sources have been coming in since the beginning of November.
“That’s correct. I was alerted to the story from various sources over the last few weeks, ever since the start of November.”
An example is Ottawa Fury FC, who suspended their team because of “politics” of sanctioning. They later sold their rights to a Miami-based franchise.
Possible Tier Two Canadian Soccer League
This soccer league would be below the first tier Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer in Canada. However, it will be above the third-tier amateur leagues of PLSQ, League1 Ontario and the new potential British Columbian league.
According to Fudge, the teams interested include several cities in the East as an alternative to the CPL, League1 Ontario and PLSQ.
This includes teams from League1Ontario who wants to go to tier two. This was revealed by Fudge on the Two Solitudes Podcast.
“Also discussions in Eastern Canada that sort of top of their pyramid sort of third-Tier teams like League1 Ontario sides interested in the ambition from going from tier three to tier two.”
The teams interested in the West include the Victoria Highlanders, the Vancouver TSS Rovers and Calgary Foothills FC, an Edmonton and Kelowna ownership group along with a Saskatchewan ownership group. This is the same ownership group responsible for the SK Summer Soccer Series. The SK Summer Soccer Series is where Canadian Premier League teams play games at Saskatoon.
According to Fudge, it is unknown what will happen to WSA Winnipeg and the Thunder Bay Chill with the changing Canadian Soccer landscape. This rumor was backed by Duane Rollins, host of Soccer Today and the Two Solitudes Podcast. This league ended up becoming the Canadian Premier League.
However, Rollins states that investors are not convinced that their market can sustain a tier-two Canadian soccer team.
There are many pros to this tier two soccer league. The pros include an implementation of promotion/relegation much earlier than expected and a pathway for Canadian soccer players.
Second Tier Canadian League – Purpose
Canadian Premier League
Some cities in Canada want to be in the Canadian Premier League. However, they want to play in a tier below to see if they can sustain a pro sports team.Fudge said on the Two Solitudes Podcast that Kelowna, Ontario, and Saskatchewan would be three examples of places that would aim at getting a CPL team.
“A group in the Summer Soccer Series Group Led In Saskatchewan.
Then he talks about the interest in Ontario and Kelowna:
“There is also Potential interest in Ontario and Kelowna.”
This model is very similar to the U.S. Soccer model right now. Many MLS teams originally played in tier two leagues before being promoted to first-tier leagues through expansion bids. These include the Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Portland Timbers and Minnesota United FC, who jumped from the second tier in the United States to Major League Soccer.
This is different than the European model where teams are promoted through performance. This model though is likely only going to be there only for the short-term. The end game of the CPL is to have promotion-relegation just like in Europe.
According to Tristan D’Amours of Pro Soccer USA, CPL Commissioner Dave Clanachan wants promotion-relegation in Canada.
“This idea of promotion and relegation adds a whole dynamic to the whole thing. It’s entertaining for the folks, and I think that it’s a real opportunity for us.”
Clanachan was planning at creating a second division by 2026. However, now there is news of Canadian clubs taking their initiative on this, there is no need to create another second division.
Canada does not want a repeat of what happened in the U.S. Soccer pyramid. For example, both the NASL and USL fought for second division status, with the NASL folding as a result.
This model would follow the English model with a slight caveat. This caveat is farm or academy teams not being allowed to play at the top domestic league in Canada.
Some of the teams in the possible tier-two league could have farm/reserve teams like potential the Calgary Foothills. The Foothills has served CPL finalist Cavalry FC with numerous players from Alberta.
Fudge states that this league creates the possibility of academy/farm teams coming from other CPL and MLS cities. For example, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC had short-lived reserve teams. They both may want to acquire a reserve team into a Canadian league with costs low. This would be cheaper than playing in USL Championship second and third-tier, which is based in the United States.
Fudge also reports an Edmonton team in the new D2 Canadian league. It’s unclear though if they would become a reserve/farm team for FC Edmonton, try to bring a second CPL team in Edmonton or something else entirely.
Another compelling reason is better competition. Some teams in the USL League One and Two feels that the new League 1 BC league coming up is not at that their level of play.
Higher competition is another reason why some teams are looking at this new tier two Canadian Soccer League.
Fudge explains on the Two Solitudes Podcast:
“TSS Rovers and Victoria Highlanders of going to tier 2 or division 2, concerned that the level of play of this potentially League 1 BC at the tier 3 league may not be as good as what they are used to be playing.”
Finally, Fudge states that this league is a national league, but with regional divisions.
Canadian Junior Hockey League
The format of this league would be similar to the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Fudge explains in the Two Solitudes Podcast:
“Sort of how junior hockey league is structured with the three different leagues that you have. Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.”
This league, as Laramee described, is a “tournament” more than a “league.” This may scare fewer investors into investing their money. Regardless, this story will continue to develop. This could be big news for Canadian soccer, which is missing a tier two men’s soccer league.