This Saturday, football (soccer) fans across the country will be taking in the inaugural match of the Canadian Premier League with Hamilton’s Forge FC battling the York9 FC at Tim Horton’s Field. For those who have been following, this feels like a long time coming. Meanwhile, there may be some of you wondering, “what the heck is the Canadian Premier League? Where the heck did this come from?”
And for you, passionate reader, we present a timeline and what is to be an continuous written series; The Ongoing History of the CPL.
Holy National Leagues, Batman
While any buzz of the Canadian Premier League might all feel very recent, this instance, this has not been the first attempt to sustain a top national soccer league in Canada.
A prior endeavour, known as the Canadian Soccer League, had launched in the 1980’s and was comprised of teams including Winnipeg Fury, Vancouver 86ers, Calgary Strikers (nee Kickers), Edmonton Brickmen, Kitchener Spirit (nee Kickers), North York Rockets and the Nova Scotia Clippers, just to name a few.
Many players of the league had arrived from the North American Soccer League which had disbanded in 1984.
During the CSL’s time, the Vancouver 86ers were considered the most successful of the bunch with 4 victories in 5 championship qualifications.
Unfortunately, the CSL was dissolved by 1992 due to membership instabilities, mainly the comings and goings of teams who were using the league as opportunities to build on outdoor playing experience and income during the summertime.
The Montreal Impact, previously known in the CSL as Montreal Supra, plus Toronto Blizzard and Vancouver 86ers then made their way to the American Professional Soccer League. The APSA lasted until 1996, during which time the finale season was presented under the name the A-League. Talent and assets were soon absorbed into the USL and also fed into our beloved MLS (Major League Soccer).
If you ever happen to be in Winnipeg, the CSL’s Mita Cup can still be found behind the glass of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Fast Forward: A CPL Timeline
November 16, 2010 – Canadian Soccer Association establishes committee to research the possibility of the later-to-be-known-as CPL.
February 4, 2013 – Rethink Management Group, hired by the CSA in 2011, releases results of independent study which was against creating a national league due to existing competition, unknown public interest quantities and lack of stadiums.
June 23, 2013 – Discussions of professional soccer leagues are confirmed between Bob Young (Hamilton Tiger-Cats) and Victor Montagliani (Canadian Soccer Association).
June 10, 2014 – Negotiations reported between CSA and CFL regarding an all-Canadian league with a target launch date of 2016.
July 31, 2015 – Reports by Duane Rollins of league interest by Vancouver, Regina, Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Montreal. Edmonton disinterested, Ottawa Fury wants to know “league level,” viability and stability first.
February 16, 2016 – Canadian Soccer Association and ownership groups confirmed to be planning CPL business model, all to be voted on in the fall.
September 2016 – Medias report “phase 1” of CPL development complete, targeted kickoff date in 2018.
May 6, 2017 – Canada Soccer confirms CPL membership, Hamilton & Winnipeg as founding cities.
January 10, 2018 – David Clanachan announced as CPL Chairman, Commissioner.
January 23, 2018 – Former Toronto FC VP of Business Operations Paul Beirne announced as President of the CPL, after 18 months as the league’s Project Manager.
January 31, 2018 – BC Hall of Famer, Dundee United & Vancouver Whitecaps Alumni James Easton announced as Vice President of Soccer Operations for the CPL.
March 29, 2018 – CPL launches Canadian Soccer Business, a representative company for everything community and commercial in Canada Soccer and the CPL.
April 27, 2018 – Manifesto video, emblem and visual branding are released.
May 10, 2018 – York9 FC announced.
May 17, 2018 – Cavalry FC (Calgary) announced.
May 25, 2018 – HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax) announced.
June 1, 2018 – Vancouver Island granted a conditional club, pending lease agreement with Westhills Stadium.
June 6, 2018 – Valour FC (Winnipeg) announced.
June 8, 2018 – FC Edmonton announced.
July 12, 2018 – Forge FC (Hamilton) (officially) announced.
July 20, 2018 – Pacific FC (Vancouver Island) (officially) announced.
September 28, 2018 – Macron confirmed as kit provider. Founding city kits were unveiled April 4, 2019.
November 14, 2018 – CPL acquires League1 Ontario from Ontario Soccer.
April 5, 2019 – CPL preseason begins in the Dominican Republic, with Nike as official footwear and equipment supplier. (Sorry MLS Adidas fans).