2020 CPL Return-To-Play: What We Know So Far
One day ahead of Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan’s long-awaited update on the league’s return to play, details have broken out online: the league is officially coming back to play a shortened season in Prince Edward Island.
The tournament – which has reportedly been dubbed ‘The Island Games’ by league branding – will see all eight Canadian Premier League sides arrive to Charlottetown in the second week of August. The clubs (save Halifax) will be flown in on charter flights, though this won’t occur on a one-team-per-flight basis. Much like the MLS Is Back Tournament, clubs will each have their own section of the bubble resort, and players will need to remain on-location for the duration of the tournament.
Teams will be tested for COVID-19 upon landing, and will undergo regular tests throughout the duration of the tournament. Each club is also having their players get tested at the present, with the head office also enforcing rules that any potential trialist ahead of the 2020 season must be tested as well.
A week or so after landing in Charlottetown, the sides will then compete in a shortened tournament format that will see a single match between each club take place for the regular season. After that, the bottom four clubs will await the Canadian Championship while the top four clubs proceed to the playoffs.
While Rollins described this as a knockout playoff, some sources have indicated that the top four clubs will actually play eachother once more in this round, with the top two then proceeding to the finals. Whichever shape the playoffs take, they’ll involve four teams with only two heading to the second-ever CPL Final. The final will only be a single leg this season.
When the tournament wraps in mid-September, all eight Canadian Premier League sides will play the first round of the modified Canadian Championship, just as Atletico Ottawa strategic partner Jeff Hunt theorized weeks ago. At the present, it’s not clear how the Canadian Major League Soccer teams will join in for the later stages of the tournament.
Every league match will once again be available on OneSoccer, and it’s reported that CBC Sports will also be broadcasting select matches. Some sources have indicated that the league is in discussions to potentially see TSN carry CPL games for the first time, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Rollins had also teased that more MLS-to-CPL loans were in the mix, and this is something that has been whispered frequently behind the scenes. Julian Dunn is a high-profile name that has come up, though no MLS-to-CPL loans other than James Pantemis, Robert Boskovic and Gianfranco Facchineri have been finalized as of yet.
Canadian Premier League clubs have been rushed to fill in their rosters with domestic signings ahead of the return-to-play, with several youngsters getting contracts as a result. There’s also been some high-profile signings, like York9 FC’s capture of a Real Madrid Academy product and Forge FC bringing in Maxim Tissot and, if things go as expected, Molham Babouli.
With David Clanachan due to clear things up at 1:00PM on Wednesday, fans won’t have to wait too much longer to hear more about the 2020 Canadian Premier League season. If all goes to plan, all eight CPL sides will contest for the North Star Shield in the near future, giving CPL fans their first taste of league action on Prince Edward Island. If the long term vision of the league comes to fruition, it won’t be the last time that happens, either.