Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2020 (262 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Canadian Premier League teams have been busy making roster moves, naming their captains and training on the pitch together for over a month — but for what?
In an interview with the Free Press on June 8, CPL commissioner David Clanachan said he envisioned teams arriving in a hub city between July 15-20 and play something along the lines of a World Cup-style tournament featuring all eight clubs.
But yet, here we are in late July, and teams such as Winnipeg’s Valour FC haven’t even unzipped their bags to start packing. And why should they? Despite rumours flying for months, the CPL still hasn’t confirmed a hub city — which was expected to be Charlottetown or Victoria — never mind any other details.
The league hasn’t officially said anything since June 5 when they sent out a media release saying the owners, clubs and player leadership had unanimously agreed on the structure and concept of a proposed strategy on the possibility of a 2020 CPL season.
Since then, they’ve been silent. I’ve been checking in with Valour staff almost weekly and they claim to be out of the loop. The players have also been left in the dark as they continue to train with no carrot dangling in front of them. A source who works closely with players around the league told the Free Press these footballers haven’t been told a thing. The Free Press contacted the league for an update, or lack thereof, on the 2020 CPL season.
"We don’t have any updates to share at the moment — we continue to work diligently on working towards a formal announcement," said a CPL spokesperson via email.
No surprise there.
Some players have taken to social media to voice their frustrations — and rightfully so. Since there’s literally nothing to talk about CPL-wise, OneSoccer analyst Kurt Larson tried to generate some discussion on Twitter earlier this week. Larson asked his followers if there was a CPL Hall of Fame after the inaugural season in 2019, who would be on the three-person/player shortlist to get inducted? FC Edmonton goalkeeper Dylon Powley chimed in and said: "The person who announces if we’re playing or not."
Sounds like a first-ballot HOFer to me.
Powley’s tweet was liked by several players around the league, as well as Edmonton coach Jeff Paulus.
The players do, however, have one thing going for them and it’s the fact they’re still being paid. It was originally announced in April that they’d be hit with a 25 per cent salary deferral. That 25 per cent has now been taken off the table entirely and players won’t be getting it back. It’s a significant pay cut considering there are players in the league who make less than $20K a season. The highest-paid player in the league is Pacific FC’s Marco Bustos, a Winnipeg native, who signed a deal worth over $60K this offseason.
But when you consider CFL players aren’t getting paid a single penny at the moment, 75 per cent to practice doesn’t seem so bad. Which then raises the question of how big of a hit is the Winnipeg Football Club taking right now as they’re still forced to pay Valour salaries despite not earning any income through the CFL or CPL? It’s speculated CPL teams have a salary cap of $750k to work with, not including staff salaries — who have also been hit with a pay cut owing to the pandemic. Wade Miller and Co. probably aren’t smiling ear to ear right now as they write cheques to guys to kick a ball around at IG Field with no one there to watch.
Should anyone be all that surprised that no progress has been made, though? Valour head coach and general manager Rob Gale seemed to see the writing on the wall since the beginning.
"Economically, I don’t see how it makes sense," Gale told the Free Press in May on the single-site solution idea.
"There’s no revenue coming in. To put that many people into hotels, per diems, food, everything else, financially, I don’t think it makes sense."
Individual sacrifice, I don’t think it makes sense. Ultimately, I’m not going to be the one who makes the decision as that’s above my paygrade, but I’m not a fan."
Unless some sponsors step up, likely the only revenue the league has to fall back on comes from Spain-based Mediapro, the owners of OneSoccer, the official broadcast partner of the CPL. It was reported last year Mediapro signed a 10-year deal with Canada Soccer Business worth $200 million over the lifetime of the deal. In addition to the CPL, Canada Soccer Business represents Canada’s national teams. It’s unknown how big of a slice of the pie the CPL gets annually, but you’d figure if it was a large sum, they’d have a plan in motion by now.
It’s no secret the league doesn’t have deep pockets like the NBA, NHL, MLB or even MLS, but the CPL missed out on a golden opportunity to showcase their product in recent months when sports fans had no other choice than to watch Korean baseball. If the CPL can get its act together in the coming days and make this happen, it’ll be a big win for the league, but it’s hard to imagine many people will take notice if they have to go up against NBA and NHL playoff action. Throw in the possibility of the NFL starting in September and the CPL, a league that already struggled to get media attention, will fall even further under the radar.
For now, the only game on the CPL schedule is the waiting game, which is somehow worse than sitting through a 90-minute 0-0 draw.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.