Clanachan: CPL Will Still Be Here After Pandemic
While the 2020 Canadian Premier League season may be on an indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread across the globe, CPL Commissioner David Clanachan wants fans to know that the league ultimately isn’t going anywhere: when brighter days arrive and it’s safe for both fans and players to return to the sport, the Canadian Premier League will still be standing firm.
As per a recent Sportsnet article, Clanachan re-affirmed that Canada’s only domestic professional soccer league was prepared for the long haul despite the tragic circumstances that have led to the suspension of its second season. With a massive 200 million dollar investment from MediaPro, an assortment of league-wide sponsorships, and an undisclosed expansion fee from newly-minted side Atletico Ottawa, it would appear the league is prepared to roll with the unforeseen circumstances of a sport suspended around the globe.
As in any business, you do what you have to do and adjust as you go. But we’re in this for the long run. This is a long game here and we’re very focused about what we’re going to build and the legacy we will leave going forward. That’s not changed at all.David Clanachan
With Canadians being asked to stay at home whenever possible and pay a healthy respect to physical distancing, the idea of a crowded stadium packed shoulder-to-shoulder while players battle out on the pitch can seem like a distant dream. For the moment, says Clanachan, fans need to focus on their own health in the here-and-now to keep the community whole:
The most important thing is for people to be healthy and to stay healthy and for us to get through this as a community and as a nation, from a global perspective, and then there’ll be time for football afterwards. That’s when I actually believe that sport, and especially football, will become that kind of rallying cry for folks as we get through this period […] That time will come and we need to be ready when that happens. And until then, we follow what we’re being told by the health officials and by our provincial and federal governments.David Clanachan
In the meantime, several Canadian Premier League players have taken to calling fans and season ticket members to give thanks for their support during what has become a tough time for many. According to Clanachan, this was an initiative started at the player level:
The players all talk throughout the league. They started calling fans and supporters that they knew because they were in our database […] The word I got back is people in the community were blown away. There was no sales pitch, no nothing. It was just about ‘How are you doing? How are you handling things? We miss you guys as fans. We’re looking forward to getting back at it. We just want to thank you for all the support you’ve given us in the past.’David Clanachan
Clanachan has also stated that while the league is on an indefinite hold for the moment, conversations with prospective ownership groups have continued to occur. While Atletico Ottawa was fast-tracked to join the 2020 season, ownership groups like Joe Belan’s Saskatchewan venture and several Quebec-based initiatives have been in discussions for quite some time now.
Despite the season itself being on hold, the league has been continuously finding ways to engage its fan base. While the eCPL FIFA Tournament was put on hold a few weeks ago, the Canadian Premier League has started a brand new eCPL Home to Play competition which sees each of the league’s eight teams represented by a rostered CPL player paired with a Canadian FIFA eSports pro.
The Canadian Premier League also released a 33-minute documentary called ‘Forever First: Rise to the Finals’, which the league debuted as a ‘watch-along’ experience for fans. OneSoccer has also kept busy with online video call hangouts with various players, too.
On that note, I’d like to to take a moment to say that Northern Tribune is here to stay, too. I work in healthcare, so I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to the website as I’d like to of late, but I’m still committed to covering the league and bringing some exclusive feature content to the table, too.
While we may not know when the Canadian Premier League (or other leagues) will return to play, Clanachan is urging calm for those worried about the state of the league. In the meantime, FIFA has stated it is due to make an announcement regarding new recommendations to help leagues complete their 2020 seasons in a safe manner when the pandemic situation is more resolved, along with the possibility of moving the dates of transfer windows to help clubs adjust for the massive schedule shift.