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Canadian Premier League Delays Season Start Date

By on April 28, 2021 0 1425 Views

The Canadian Premier League is officially pushing back the Victoria Long Weekend start date it had optimistically set for the upcoming season.

The Canadian Premier League had remained radio silent on the original late May start date after announcing plans for such in January. With no news coming forth as the date approached, many fans and media alike had been expecting the next communication to confirm a delay.

In an announcement made today, the league’s head office confirmed the delay while promising fans that it will share a new scheduling update on May 15, suggesting that alternative plans may be in advanced stages.

In a letter addressed to fans in both French and English, Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan reiterated the league’s intention to host a 2021 season despite the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:

We are committed to playing our 3rd season of CPL soccer in 2021. You can count on us delivering a creative and innovative solution for our Players, Partners and Supporters as we did with the Island Games in 2020. Clearly, the country is struggling through a third wave of the pandemic and we need to adjust accordingly. We are going to delay the start of the season, but we are still completely focused and committed to playing our season.

David Clanachan

At the present, five of the league’s eight teams have begun preseason training: the Halifax Wanderers, Atletico Ottawa (in Spain), FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC, and Pacific FC. While Valour FC is expected to begin soon, the extended lockdown of Ontario currently leaves York United and Forge FC with little hope of hosting a local preseason training camp (or home games, for that matter).

The commissioner had previously assured fans that the league would have a ‘Plan B, and a Plan C’ in place in the event that home markets wouldn’t be possible, and sources indicate these plans have been quietly in the works: a dual-bubble tournament has been discussed, along with the potential for another Island Games-style single location tournament.

In Clanachan’s letter, he notes that the league’s experience with putting together a successful Island Games bubble tournament last year will greatly aid the league in adapting to the challenges once more in 2021.

We have pivoted and we are working on a number of scenarios to adapt to the latest situation. We did it last year, while creating our successful Island Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. We know what it takes, we have the playbook, and we know how to execute flawlessly as we did in 2020.

David Clanachan

In 2020, the league successfully held a made-for-television bubble tournament in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island that ran from start to finish with zero positive cases of COVID-19. Forge FC retained its championship title in the east coast tournament.

While it remains to be seen what ultimately unfolds this year, today’s news of the 2021 CPL season being delayed comes as little shock. With hopes that the country’s vaccination efforts will have progressed the fight against COVID-19 significantly by the summer, however, it’s still too early to rule out the possibility of home markets this year – though a bubble tournament is looking increasingly likely, especially with Clanachan stating that the league was pivoting in its season plans.

Despite the difficulties brought on by the current pandemic situation, the domestic professional soccer league was able to grant conditional expansion rights to a ninth location, Saskatchewan, just last month. With this tentative new team still needing to sort out a stadium situation, it won’t be participating in the upcoming 2021 CPL season.

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