May 20, 2024
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Canadian Premier League Commissioner Mark Noonan

Six Big Things Revealed By CPL Commissioner Mark Noonan

By on April 11, 2024 0 1831 Views

As the Canadian Premier League stands on the precipice of its sixth season, Canadian Premier League commissioner Mark Noonan has revealed some tasty teases about what’s coming next in Canada’s top flight soccer league – but there are bumps in the road that have delayed the rollout his ‘bullish’ expansion plans for 2025.

Speaking with TSN’s AJ Jakubec on the radio, the commissioner gave fans an insider’s look at his expansion targets, what a ‘filled out’ Canadian Premier League would look like, and even an update on how the league my be broadcasted in the future.

Without further ado, let’s get into it:

Stay Tuned: New Broadcast Deals Are Coming

While OneSoccer will be carrying the league this year (despite their parent company’s public dispute with Canadian Soccer Business), Noonan has teased that finding an even larger – dare we dream to say largely accessible – distribution network could be on the horizon.

“We’re working every day to do that,” said Noonan. “So we’ll hopefully have some news for you in the coming months.”

“Any young league needs to continue to push for broader distribution. You know, we need to make people aware of the great things that are happening in our communities, as well as the league, across the country from Halifax all the way on the east, all the way to Victoria on the west.”

In the interim, OneSoccer will carry every league match, plus the Canadian Championship along with select national team matches. Subscribers to fuboTV will retain access to the 24/7 OneSoccer channel, and it will be available on Telus Channel 980, too.

FC Edmonton Wesley Timoteo Goal
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

The Usual Suspects: Expansion Targets Acquired

There were no shocks when Noonan was asked about the top expansion candidates: there’s a deep hunger La Belle Province, with Quebec City being namedropped by Noonan – and not for the first time.

The commissioner also reiterated his intention to return to the Edmonton market, having made the tough decision to pull the plug on the original team there in favour of sustainable fresh start.

“When I started, we didn’t have the right scenario there,” said Noonan. “But we think that it is an incredibly viable market, and we want to be back there.”

Canadian Premier League Regina

Both Saskatoon and Regina Have Interest

The league learned a humbling lesson about announcing expansion before stadium plans were ready with the disbanding of its premature Saskatoon venture last fall, though we later found out that original expansion candidate Joe Belan remains interested.

Interestingly, both Saskatoon and Regina were namedropped by the commissioner, along with ‘some other parts out west’. Could the league be Prairie-bound? Maybe.

“There’s probably about fifteen or so markets that could potentially host a CPL team, and we’re in discussion with all of them,” quips Noonan.

York Lions Stadium
Photo Credit: John Jacques

Stadium Standards: A Block On Building Blocks

Between David Clanachan and his successor in Mark Noonan there lies on constant: securing viable stadium grounds has been a struggle for the soccer league.

“To be candid, if we wanted to expand into small stadiums that have Canadian Football lines stitched in that don’t look professional, we could have expanded by now – there’s enough interest,” says Noonan, who describes that the league’s biggest challenge is finding the right facilities for the CPL.

There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes to find and establish viable stadium grounds, with the league bringing in infrastructure specialist Marnie Dicker to help get things done.

Echoing a sentiment he’s shared before, the commissioner will not fire the starter gun on a stadium until the right conditions are met for success.

“Whether it’s great ownership, a proper facility to play in, municipal support, corporate support, great community and soccer support, we’re not going to expand. So we’re putting that puzzle together, but the biggest challenge that we have across Canada is facilities. We’ve got to figure that out.”

No Expansion For 2025 After All

This is where the bad news comes in: in a separate interview with Canadian Soccer Daily’s Thomas Hewitt, Noonan revealed that the two sides he’d described as ‘locked in’ for 2025 won’t meet that timeline.

“I think any expansion, at this stage, for 2025 is unlikely,” he revealed, stating that the league has already endured too many hard lessons about expanding when it didn’t have the right conditions to ensure success.

At the CPL Final he’d revealed that some fifteen groups were in discussions with the league, some of whom have left, with some new ones coming in. A new group had even toured the venue during the final.

For now, however, Noonan doesn’t want to put any markers down for them. Not until more is in place – another lesson hammered home, this time on his watch.

Forge FC Garven Metusala Tristan Borges
Photo Credit: John Jacques

The Ceiling: How Big Can The CPL Grow?

The long-term vision of the league remains unchanged from what the general plan is, aside of no promotion and relegation chatter: Noonan believes that in the next decade the Canadian Premier League will have at least sixteen teams, with a potential ceiling of twenty.

“That’s probably the max this country is going to hold. It’s a big country, and if we’re able to divide that into East and West divisions to be able to cut down on travel and wear-and-tear on players, I think that would be beneficial to all.”

It was just a number of months ago when Noonan teased that the league will be adding two teams in 2025, and another two in 2026. While those timelines have already been muddied, will we have to wait long to hear about the the next expansion sides?

Noonan’s on-air answer on the matter is brief, but effective.

“Stay tuned.”

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