Source: Toronto FC Set To Rejoin League1 Ontario Via Pickering License
Northern Tribune has learned that Toronto FC looks set to make return to League1 Ontario’s main divisions via an acquisition of Pickering FC’s men’s operating license.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an individual with knowledge of the matter has confirmed that the MLS side looks set to field a squad in the League1 Ontario Championship Division starting in 2024, marking a repatriation six years in the making.
“TFC has the license,” revealed the source. “It is a 90% certainty. We are waiting on negotiations between Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment [owners of TFC] and Canadian Soccer Business [owners of L1O] to work out the details with things like sponsorships, before we announce it.”
It was added that there remains some contention between club and league officials with the former group requesting that the license be granted on a year-to-year basis while the L1 head office are seeking the standard three-year buy-in from TFC.
This would not be Toronto FC’s first foray into League1 Ontario: when the league was first founded back in 2014, TFC’s Academy was among the initial 10 teams in L1O’s inaugural season.
In 2014, TFC Academy – also known as TFC III – won the first-ever league regular season title, going undefeated with a record of 11W-0L-5D and capturing the Golden Boot with now-York United forward Mo Babouli netting 21 goals. Qualifying for the Inter-Provincial Cup versus the winners of the PLSQ (now Ligue1 Quebec) side CS Longueuil, TFC III would claim that title as well, winning 4-0 on aggregate.
This would mark the club’s only two titles at the League1 Ontario level before their departure in 2018, when MLSE moved their Academy to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA), which would later merge with the American-based MLS NEXT youth league.
Toronto FC has seen more recent participation in the League1 Ontario system, albeit it has always been in a limited manner.
In 2021, due to the cessation of operations by the USSDA caused by the COVID pandemic, both TFC III (U-19) and IV (U-17) played in the League1 Ontario Summer Championship series, claiming first and second place respectively with a combined two losses over 13 games. Flash forward to 2023, and TFC fielded their U-19 Academy squad in the L1O’s Fall Reserve League, with the team going 12W-0L-0D.
For 2024, whether this new TFC squad will repatriate the existing TFC Academy currently playing in MLS NEXT or will be a complimenting roster to add to the TFC system is still to be seen.
Up until recently, there had been radio silence from the league head office surrounding the two licenses up for grabs after the dissolution of Pickering’s L1O program, however it was known that the announcements were to come before year’s end. Earlier this week, it was announced that Scrosoppi FC of Milton had acquired the rights for a women’s team in the L1O Championship.
Should TFC come to terms with CSB on the license, the league will have all of its names for the clubs competing in the L1O Premiership (12 men, 10 women) and Championship (10 men, 8 women) divisions.