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Clanachan Aiming For CPL Return To Training Next Week

By on May 28, 2020 0 1086 Views

It has now been over two months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Canadian Premier League to put the brakes on its second-ever season. In that time, players have been sent home and have been training individually, but as case counts dwindle in certain provinces, momentum to restart the burgeoning professional sports league has grown – though the when and how remains a mystery.

With Canada Soccer now giving the clear for a careful and calculated return to training, Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan has given fans a firmer timeline to look at: during the Atletico Ottawa home kit reveal, he stated that he expects to see CPL clubs easing back in to training sessions as early as next week.

I’m certainly hopeful. As we said earlier this week, we’re actively engaged with each of the club’s provincial and municipal governments. In Ottawa, we have a friend in Ottawa with Minister Lisa MaCleod, so we’re hoping her group will help us there as well. We need to get all the approvals required for return-to-training. Obviously, we have that in place already from Canada Soccer. We’re expecting to commence training pretty shortly. I would say hopefully sometime next week or early in the next after that.

David Clanachan

Last week we reported that the Canadian Premier League had released a hefty Return-To-Training document for CPL clubs that spanned some twenty pages, indicating that the league was approaching the landmark moment where clubs will be able to have players train on club grounds and in small groups.

According to Clanachan, these steps – much like the re-opening of many provinces themselves – will come in a series of calculated steps:

We’ll start with a phased approach: small workouts in small groups, and then in a rolling basis we’ll bring clubs on. I think the most important thing, though, is that we’ve got to commit – and we are committed, as are our clubs, to adhering to public health guidelines and the government directives around this to stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease. And also, to make sure that we maintain the health of all of our players, technical staff, coaches, and their families as we’re going through all of this. We’re doing it the right way, and we’ll be back on the pitch before you know it.

David Clanachan

With Canadian Premier League expansion side Atletico Ottawa originally expecting to kick off in early April, the club has had a significant boost in time to build up its inaugural roster, with the significant caveat that signing players in the midst of a pandemic is unprecedented territory in the modern sporting game. This week, Forge FC gaffer Bobby Smyrniotis revealed that the club missed out on signing a high-profile player who got cold feet due to the pandemic.

Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez recognized the challenge, and was quick to point out that the club’s current roster of fourteen players had only trained together in Madrid for three days before being forced to distance themselves from one another during the suspension of soccer activities. Due to this, he’s hoping to see a training period of three to four weeks before a modified 2020 CPL season kicks in.

We have trained three days together in our preseason training camp in the week we were in Spain, in Madrid. Definitely, we need some more than that. We are working with the CPL, together with Canada Soccer and the local authorities, to get permission to return to training. As soon as we have that, as much time that we can train together is going to be beneficial for us. Hopefully we can train three weeks, four weeks. The more time that we can train I think will be great for us.

Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez

At present, it’s looking more-and-more likely that the Canadian Premier League will look to a single province to host a shortened season that will run 2-3 months long. This significantly reduces travel and isolation requirements, with the expectation that players will see out the modified season by playing in empty stadiums.

It’ll be strange first steps for Atletico Ottawa, but strategic partner and local Ottawa entrepreneur Jeff Hunt is eager to keep the momentum going, specifically stating that he has faith that Clanachan will find a way for Atletico Ottawa to take to the pitch in the near future.

I think events like this certainly make us feel that the momentum is still strong, but nothing replaces the games and the participating with fans at a game. We’re hoping that we can keep the excitement going with continuing to do things like this, and hopefully we’ll figure out some way with David’s leadership, that we’ll have some version of competition this year.

Jeff Hunt

With room to sign some nine more players, Atletico Ottawa still has plenty of roster additions to make if it hopes to have enough depth to compete across what may be a very congested schedule in the months to come. The club has signed six international players so far, leaving room for one more international signing. Right now, rumours suggest that the club is looking at an international number nine striker to fill that roster spot.

However Atletico Ottawa plans to flesh out the rest of its roster, Fernando Lopez believes the rest of the domestic signings will leave the expansion side with a good line-up that can represent the staple hard-working mentality of his side’s parent club.

It changed a little bit because we planned to start in April, and since the moment that that changed, everything changed. We were managing well, and we were keeping the conversations with players that we have conversations with, agents, and teams. We are just waiting to put everything in place when the situation gets back to normal. Hopefully, we can announce the rest of the players. We still have one more international spot, and the rest are going to be Canadians. I’m sure we will fight for everything when the competition is back.

Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez

Lopez isn’t the only one confident in the expansion side: Jamaican international Tevin Shaw believes the side can fight for the North Star Shield in its first-ever season. Whatever shape the 2020 Canadian Premier League season takes, it looks like it won’t be too long before fans hear about an official return-to-training plan from the league itself.

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