2019 CPL Championship Format Still To Be Determined, Says Clanachan
The Canadian Premier League has seen each club register multiple matches, with Cavalry FC expanding its early lead in the table after an Al Classico match that many believe will help shape the spring season. Whoever is on top by Canada Day will earn a berth in a playoff championship for the first-ever Canadian Premier League title.
The spring season winner will be playing this match against the winner of the fall season, which has nearly twice as many games in total than its spring counterpart. In the event the same team wins both seasons, the team with the highest cumulative points behind the season champion will qualify for the second playoff spot.
To that end, league commissioner David Clanachan touched on the playoff structure during a media scrum at Spruce Meadows. Speaking with Stuart Gradon of Total Soccer Project, the commissioner revealed that he’s still figuring out what would work best for the championship match: a single-match fixture, or a home-and-away playoff:
We’re working through that right now. There’s a lobbying effort for a home and away, but we’re not quite there yet.”David Clanachan
With a smaller spring season schedule, the drama has come quick, and pundits are estimating that somewhere around 23 points will be enough for a team to win the spring season and earn a berth in the playoff. While a small spring schedule means every game is impactful, it’s led to some fairly hectic and unbalanced schedules.
“It’s a spring season. We had it set up to finish on July 1. That’s why it’s a little unbalanced right now. We thought it would be a very interesting idea and unique where it finishes on Canada Day with six of the seven playing. And also because of the fact we have that CONCACAF [League] berth for a one-time only, whoever won the spring league would do it. It didn’t work out that way but it’s still going to be a lot of fun.”David Clanachan
Clanachan had originally hoped the winner of the first-ever spring season would qualify for the CONCACAF League, but only FC Edmonton, Forge FC, and Valour FC were eligible due to the date of their Canada Soccer membership. Next year, things will be different. The league will more than likely be larger, too.
While the league has been playing for a little under a month, early reports indicate that it has a fairly healthy following, and other ownership groups are looking to help it expand. Both Montreal and Quebec City are expected to have announcements in the coming weeks, while Clanachan has himself talked about ownership groups in British Columbia, Ontario, and the Atlantic.
With the Canadian Premier League possibly fielding more than seven teams next year, Clanachan admits that the spring season closing date may change to allow for a more balanced schedule – although he likes the idea of it ending on Canada Day:
I’ve been asked, do we balance it better next year? Potentially. But there’s something unique about Canada Day in this country. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody guessing for a little while longer.”David Clanachan
With the league still in its first-ever season, there are plenty of things to organize and, on a whole, not a lot of time to do it. Even once a system is put in place, the growth of Canada’s only professional soccer league may lead to changes down the road.
Much like Toronto FC getting a bye into the semi-finals of the interim Voyageurs Cup schedule, it may not be the most optimal schedule for fans – but these are growing pains that will help strengthen the domestic game as a whole. After all, eleven years ago the Canadian Championship was just an MLS-based Toronto FC against then-NASL sides Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact. Full stop.
It’s fair to say that the national cup competition has come a long way since it started – and the same will hopefully be said one day about the Canadian Premier League. That isn’t a knock on its first month of activity, which has exceeded expectations – but it’ll be nice when details like this are sorted out well ahead of time.
For now, Clanachan will keep fans guessing. Having helped the league to a successful launch in a professional atmosphere, we suppose he’s earned that right.
Source: Total Soccer Project