Rumour: League1 Alberta To Add New Teams For 2024, Pro/Rel Under Discussion
UPDATE: League1 Alberta has disputed the information that we reported on below based on the document and information we received from our source. However, we are keeping the original article as follows:
After what was a successful summer exhibition series for League1 Alberta, the league is already thinking big.
Having spoken to a source from a L1AB club, Northern Tribune can exclusively reveal multiple updates around the league.
Expansion : Eight Teams In 2024
Having started with five teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions, there was always the expectation for at least one new club for both divisions heading into the 2024 official launch. With that said, a source from a League1 Alberta club has told Northern Tribune that there will be eight teams in the league for next season, an increase of three from the exhibition series.
Calgary Blizzard, who fielded a women’s team in 2023, will now operate a men’s club as well. Similarly, Cavalry, who had a men’s U-20 team in the exhibition series, will field a women’s side via the NDC program. The latter team was announced earlier by the Alberta Soccer Association.
On top of that, there is expectation that there will be two completely new clubs in L1AB next year. Both new teams – Calgary South West United and Calgary Rangers – will hail from Calgary. Both clubs will field teams of both genders, bringing the total to eight L1 AB teams.
Calgary Rangers will partner with Mount Royal University. As for Calgary South West United, they have partnered with the Calgary Callies of the Alberta Major Soccer League (AMSL).
This comes as no surprise, given the interest to join the league for the initial test series. While not yet official, League1 Alberta will likely run a full league in 2024.
League Format For 2024
While not all details of the format are not yet confirmed, the same source previously mentioned confirmed that the eight teams will meet each other home and away, for a 14-game regular season. Matches between local teams are to take place during the week. Games from out of city are aiming to occur on Fridays and Saturdays.
There is no word yet on whether there will be playoffs. However, it is possible that the top two teams will meet in the final again. That was the case in the exhibition series.
Moreover, there are talks of potentially having a L1 AB Cup running concurrently next year. The winner of that cup would meet the L1 AB league champion in a Super Cup-like match. This is not official, but a strongly-considered possibility.
Talks On Promotion And Relegation In The Works
Finally, there have been talks of implementing promotion and relegation to League1 Alberta using a naming system similar to League1 Ontario. While not yet confirmed, the idea would be to implement it for 2028, with six to eight teams per league.
In a document obtained by Northern Tribune, the plan currently discussed would see a complete reform of the football pyramid in the province.
The idea is to have six to eight teams in L1 AB Premier, with one or two teams relegated per season. There could also possibly be divisions with two groups of four, though planning is in the early stages.
A second tier, named L1 AB Championship in the document, would also be formed. Like the top tier, there would be six to eight teams in the league, with the possibility of having divisions. One or two teams would promote to L1 AB, and the same going the opposite direction.
It is important to note that no reserve/youth teams from L1 AB Premier would partake in L1 AB Championship.
Finally, League2 Alberta would sit at the bottom of the pyramid, containing the reserve teams from L1 AB Premier and Championship, as well as senior teams. League2 would replace the existing AMSL, and would be completely amateur. Up to two teams may promote to L1 AB Championship. Teams from L2 AB could also compete in the Jubilee Cup and Challenge Cup.
On top of that, a L1 Alberta Cup could also take place, incorporating all teams except for the reserves.
The proposal noted that the season would run from May to October, similar to Ligue1 Quebec. Games would tentatively take place on Tuesdays and Fridays (Premier Division), Wednesdays and Saturdays (Championship Division), and Thursdays and Sundays (League2).
While we are a few years away from the potential of seeing promotion and relegation in Alberta, it certainly gives football fans across the country, and particularly in Alberta, something to get excited about.
With Quebec and British Columbia already having fully fledged leagues, and with the Prairies and Atlantic Canada trying to prepare leagues for themselves, the League1 Canada landscape across the country will continue to grow in the near future.