Clanachan: CPL To Keep Working On Ottawa
2019 was a dramatic year for the Ottawa Fury: the Canadian club was almost unsanctioned by CONCACAF for not switching from the USL to the Canadian Premier League before eventually besting a CPL club in the Voyageurs Cup and, for the first time ever, making the USL playoffs.
With the capital city club’s postseason ending with a narrow defeat to the Charleston Battery last night, questions are resurfacing about what’s next for a team which had previously said that were still many unanswered questions about the Canadian Premier League in response to CPL commissioner David Clanachan’s continued invitations to join the league.
Sitting down with Asa Rehman, the commissioner touched on the subject for the first time since July, indicating that the CPL has been working hard to make an offer that would appeal to the USL club, but that the OSEG ownership group simply needs to want to be in the CPL to make it work:
Ottawa’s a great group. There’s been lots written and said about it. Adrian and Mark, that run the club, the football business and the hockey business there, they’re great people – and Julian as well. At the end of the day, they’re in USL and they’ve got to decide that they want to come. We’ve done everything that we can. We’ve tried to make the right offer and adjust to what they need, recognizing that they’d be coming from another league.David Clanachan
Right now the capital city club currently has 27 players on the books, which puts it firmly above the CPL’s current maximum roster size of 23. One can imagine that the club is also above the as-yet-unknown salary capacity of the league, and even if the league allows the Fury some leeway in regards to the CPL’s established rules, there’s no telling how the other Canadian Premier League clubs would react to the preferential treatment. To that end, there’s no telling how long the club would be allowed to operate outside of the league’s standard rules, either.
Ottawa was widely expected to be the eighth team for the inaugural Canadian Premier League season, but instead the burgeoning league had to forge onwards with an uneven number of teams and a schedule filled with midweek matches. Attendance averages took a knock as a result, though at the end of the day the Ottawa Fury still ended up middle of the park when it comes to attendance comparisons to Canada’s professional domestic league.
Clanachan thinks that the Ottawa Fury will eventually want to come, but he also recognizes that a top division Canadian league needs to find itself in the nation’s capital one way or another, implying that the league may undergo preparations with a separate ownership group to establish a CPL club in Ottawa:
I think eventually they’ll want to come. I truly believe that we need a Canadian team playing in the Canadian Premier League in our nation’s capital, and so that will happen at one point. I’m hoping it will happen with the Ottawa Fury, but otherwise we have to be there. People across the country are telling us that. I think when you look at Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg, there’s great rivalries there. We know that that exists already. So, we’re going to keep working at it, and hopefully we’ll be able to pull that off.David Clanachan
During the same sit-down with Rehman, the commissioner didn’t ultimately rule out that next season won’t see expansion, though many locations at the forefront of public discussion like Montreal and Saskatoon seem to be aiming for a 2021 launch date. The result is that Clanachan previously indicated he’d be happy with a single expansion team for next year ahead of more aggressive expansion in the more distant future.
Clanachan will be on-hand during tomorrow’s media day ahead of the first leg of the Canadian Premier League finals, which may be why he’s answering questions about things like potential playoff structures ahead of time so that they don’t detract from the two clubs in the finals tomorrow. Cavalry FC and Forge FC will undergo a two-legged matchup over the next two weeks to see who will be the first team to take home the CPL trophy, which is poised to be revealed tomorrow.
Source: OneSoccer (via Twitter)