June 18, 2024
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L1ONews Flash: Promotions, Relegations, and Minute-Quota Changes

By on February 8, 2024 0 1543 Views

It has been a busy week for League1 Ontario with the league releasing a plethora of news stories for fans to keep up with! Here is a recap of the three big stories for you to keep up with.

Dutch Connections -> The Borough FC

It was announced earlier this week that Dutch Connections – the Scarborough-based academy led by two former Dutch National Team players – partnered with Rob Jenkins to form The Borough FC.

READ MORE: Dutch Connections Rebrands As ‘The Borough FC’ For 2024

The club has placed a particular onus on building the footballing community in Scarborough by creating a clear and defined pathway from youth to their U-20 and semi-pro sides, highlighting that they intend to build the infrastructure for a women’s roster as well in the near future.

Playing out of Birchmount Stadium in Toronto’s east-end, the club is looking to create a product on and off the pitch, uniting some of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods and by recruiting locally-based talent in an area which boasts such great names like national team stars Kamal Miller (Canada) and Jonathan de Guzman (Netherlands).

Two Promotions and a Relegation

League1 Ontario Blue Devils
Photo Credit: Bob Twidle

Thursday proved to be quite the early Christmas for the fans and players of L1O-Women’s Championship’s Blue Devils FC and of the L2O-Women’s Rush Canada as both received promotions to the L1O tiers above the second division they were previously placed in.

This all stems from a decision made internally by L1O-Women’s Premiership side St. Catharines Roma Wolves, who announced that they would voluntarily relegate themselves to L2 Ontario following roster decisions.

Speaking via press release, Chris Keem – the League1 Ontario Operations Manager – revealed that several players on the SCR Wolves’ roster had opted to remain in the USA during the NCAA offseason, leaving their roster depleted.

“St. Catharines have opted to move their ‘A’ team to the League2 division,” said Keem, adding that the decision ‘provides better development opportunities for their younger players who can aspire to work their way up the League1 Ontario pyramid.’

Taking St. Catharines’ place in the Premiership is the Blue Devils FC, who finished in a close twelfth spot in the cumulative promotion table half a point behind the Wolves, who themselves were promoted to the Premiership due to the sudden folding of Electric City FC.

With the dominos falling upward, the League revealed that the Rush Canada Academy – announced in September as 1 of 3 new clubs joining League2 Ontario – will then fill the gap left by the Blue Devils. Rush was chosen by the league as the remaining two clubs, the Sudbury Cyclones and The Borough FC, will not be fielding women’s teams in 2024.

The League also stated that Rush Canada will now field a ‘B’ team in League2 Ontario to fill their vacant spot.

Giving the Young Kids a Chance

Christian Zeppieri and Charlotte Cromack were U20 stars in the 2023 L1ON season, helping secure their respective teams playoff spots. (Courtesy: League1 Ontario)

Finally on Wednesday, League1 Ontario published the newly-revamped Minutes Played Quotas for the 2024 season for all U-20 and U-23 players.

With the league’s emphasis on developing younger talent, L1O announced that they would be increasing the required number of minutes each team must play their U-20 and U-23 players over the course of a season.

In 2023, League1 Ontario clubs in the Men’s Premier division were required to field their U-20 players for a collective 2,000 minutes across the season. Men’s rosters also required at least 8 U-23 players per game day.

There was no such quota or roster minimums for the Women’s Premiership.

Going into the 2024 season, U-20 players must play 2,500 and 2,000 minutes in the Men’s and Women’s Premier divisions respectively. At the L1O Championship level, every club will be required to field their U-20’s for a minimum of 2,000 minutes.

All the minute quotas will be listed in the table below:

DivisionU20 MinutesU23 Minutes
MEN L1O-Premiership2,500 (11% of total minutes)9,000 (41% of total minutes)
WOMEN L1O-Premiership2,000 (11% of total minutes)7,250 (41% of total minutes)
MEN L1O-Championship2,000 (11.25% of total minutes)7,250 (41% of total minutes)
WOMEN L1O-Championship2,000 (11.25% of total minutes)7,250 (41% of total minutes)
MEN League2 ‘A’ Teams11.5% of total minutes41% of total minutes
WOMEN League2 ‘A’ Teams11.5% of total minutes41% of total minutes

Additionally, all L2O Reserve or ‘B’ teams will be required to provide 90% of available playing minutes to their U-21 roster while the remaining 10% will be reserved to provide game time and injury recovery opportunities for ‘A’ team players.

Finally, the league announced that the aforementioned required eight roster spots for U-23 players has been eliminated for all competitions except for League1 Cup matches, where it will apply across all divisions of the L1O pyramid.

Guelph United claimed the U21 Reserve championship in August 2023 with a win over the Woodbridge Strikers

The league plans to increase these numbers gradually with every passing year, setting the goal that by the 2027 season, collective minutes played by U-20s will be 3,500 in the Men’s Premier and 2,850 in the Women’s Premier, while U-23 minutes will be 10,000 and 8,000 respectively. These numbers will possibly be replicated at the Championship level as well.

“Young players at this level are not just battling for trophies, but for contracts with professional teams around the world,” says Chris Keem.

He added that by increasing the minimum quota of each team to play their younger stars, League1 Ontario is ‘putting a greater emphasis on fielding young and motivated talent. Seeing them share the pitch with more experienced, and just as competitive, players can only make the league better for talent development and more exciting for fans.’

League1 Ontario and all its encompassing teams are set to kick off the first ever season of promotion-relegation soccer in Canada this spring. The three divisions will see teams battle it out on the pitch for glory and gold while also competing in a renewed L1 Cup set to feature match-ups that cross divisional boundaries.

The L1O schedule is set to drop this winter.

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