Canadian Premier League Announces Late May Season Start Date
Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan has announced that the league is aiming to launch the 2021 Canadian Premier League season on May 22, 2021, which falls on the Victoria Day long weekend.
The start date for the league’s third season will largely depend on Canada’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with Clanachan stating that a full 28 game season with home markets and fans in the stands is the current vision, though he notes that the CPL remains adaptable should that not be possible.
The league is also updating its domestic U-21 roster rule, which now sees a 50% increase in the amount of playtime required for domestic youngsters. Starting this season, clubs are required to sign at least three domestic U-21 players who must cumulatively play 1,500 minutes of action each season, up from 1,000 minutes over the last two seasons.
Here’s the letter from the commissioner in full:
As we enter 2021, the Canadian Premier League remains excited about this new year. We recognize that we must remain as patient – as we did in 2020 – but we see a number of possibilities which will bring us back onto the field in our home markets!
Innovation, creativity and adaptability remain at the forefront of our minds as we plan for the new season – utilizing the same approach that we demonstrated while creating our successful Island Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island last year.
This year, we will build on the success created by demonstrating our resolve to deliver the 2021 Season that our Supporters and Fans deserve.
We at the League office are working behind the scenes with our Owners, Clubs, Players and Staff to prepare our best year yet. While focused on playing our season, we continue to review multiple scenarios – with the safety of all at the forefront of our competition.
Our plans call for the start of play this Spring – while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation’s progress against this pandemic. Based on where we are right now, if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) – Canada’s “unofficial start of summer” for a full 28 game season. To that end, we will remain flexible but also adaptable in our planning. To be clear, our ultimate goal is to see our Supporters in the stands as we take to the field!
It is also imperative that the Canadian Premier League delivers the highest level of professional soccer for our Supporters, Fans, Partners and Sponsors including some exciting initiatives.
On the Football Development side, we have updated our ground-breaking CPL-U SPORTS Draft to continue our focus on developing opportunities for young talented athletes to play professionally while continuing to pursue their education in Canada.
We have also made a number of changes for the 2021 season to add greater opportunity for young Canadian Players – including – increasing the Under 21 Domestic Player Minutes by 50%. This direction is a testament to our commitment to development of young players – the likes of Tristan Borges, Emilio Estevez and Tyler Attardo – who benefited from these rules and moved to other international markets to showcase their talents.
Our focus on Player Development has created an impact on quality of play and continues to garner attention. Canadian Premier League players are drawing invites to the National Team training camps in advance of an important U 23 Concacaf Olympic qualifying competition this year.
We have recently announced a partnership with Canada Soccer that presents Canadian Premier League players with a brand-new opportunity that leads them to one day join the professional coaching ranks. As part of the Canada Soccer Coach Education Program, CPL players can obtain their National ‘C/B’ coaching license in an expedited manner in recognition of their professional experience. Continuing to create talent at all levels of our game is key to advancing our country’s ability and standard of play.
We are excited and hopeful for 2021 and as we always do, we want to thank you for standing by us, and with us. Thank you to our Season Seat Members, Supporters, Fans, our Partners and Sponsors. We are immensely grateful – We could not do this without you and continue to be inspired by your support!
Stay safe and adhere to our local health guidelines but look to the future – when we are playing soccer in your community and you are back in the stands.
While the 2020 Canadian Premier League campaign was forced to play in a made-for-television bubble tournament format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the league has high hopes that the upcoming season will see more normalcy and, hopefully, fans in the stands.
The league will also be overseeing a digital CPL-U SPORTS Draft that was tentatively pushed back to mid-to-late January a month ago, though there has been no update on to when the draft will ultimately take place.
The Canadian Premier League will enter the 2021 season with eight teams, with current reigning champion Forge FC set to play in a belated Voyageurs Cup Final against Toronto FC prior to the start of the season.
While it wasn’t mentioned in the letter, another league roster rule update appears to require Canadian Premier League rosters to feature at least four internationals that are vetted by the league’s official scouting partner, 21st Club.
It is not yet clear when the 2021 Canadian Premier League season is expected to end, or whether midweek matches will make a return to avoid running deep into Canada’s colder months. Should there be any changes to the situation, the league will provide an official update to keep fans in the loop – but for now, the league office is pushing onwards with a late May start date in mind.