CPL Introduces Affiliation Pilot Project With Lower Divisions
The Canadian Premier League announced today that they will be piloting a new program in collaboration the various semi-pro and mens-amateur leagues in the country to provide more competitive on-field minutes for CPL talent.
The pilot will see each of the eight CPL teams sign affiliation agreements with any one team in either League1 Ontario, League1 BC, Ligue1 Québec, the League1 Alberta Exhibition Series, USL League Two, and the top men’s leagues in Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia.
Each of the teams may then move two outfield players and one goalkeeper to their affiliate club so they may gain, as described by CPL Commissioner Mark Noonan, “consistent competitive game time that is critical to their growth”.
The CPL did stipulate that while CPL players may move back and forth between the clubs, there will be no upward movement of semi-pro or amateur players into the CPL without a proper professional contract.
Additionally, players sent down over the age of 23 may only play a maximum of three games for the affiliate club in a regular season, whereas players 22 and under have no such cap on their appearances. All players who are sent-down are barred from playing in any Canadian Championship or post-season match ups.
Regarding the new pilot, Commissioner Noonan said that ‘by implementing this project, we intend to maximize the benefits of the ever-improving pathway between amateur and professional men’s soccer in Canada.’
The league added that following the 2023 season, a comprehensive review will be done to see if the pilot ‘is making a positive impact on player development and competitiveness within sport and to determine whether it is a viable long-term solution that enables all rostered CPL players to log such important minutes.’
As of the publication, only five of the eight CPL teams have signed affiliation agreements with semi-pro/amateur clubs. They are:
York United FC: Alliance United FC (League1 Ontario)
Forge FC: Sigma FC (League1 Ontario)
Cavalry FC: Cavalry FC U21 (League1 Alberta Exhibition Series)
Vancouver FC: Unity FC (League1 BC)
Pacific FC: Nautsa’mawt FC (League1 BC)
Atletico Ottawa, HFX Wanderers, and Valour may affiliate at any point during the 2023 season, though it would be expected for ATO to extend their partnership with L1QC’s Ottawa South United (now OSU Atletico) while Valour will most likely come to terms with FC Manitoba of USL 2.