I can confirm that there are ongoing plans to create a Canadian second division. This planning started prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and was originally targeting a 2020 soft launch for the project. However, the global pandemic put those plans on hold.
However, activity started back up over the previous few months. Those behind the league believe a 2022 start date is possible.
The league would be classified as “pro/am,” with NCAA and U-Sport athletes being joined by both local prospects and the occasionally older player that no longer can afford to play in the CanPL.
“The league would be good for guys like Dylan Carreiro to still play at a high level while pursuing other opportunities,” a source involved in the planning said.
Teams would play in a regional set-up over a short season, likely three months. The league would wrap up in early summer, before fans “took off to the cottage,” the source said. It’s long been suggested that attendance suffers in the summer months as Canadians look to enjoy what summer they do get.
That is particularly the case in the west, where much of the drive for the league is taking place. That said, there is talk of as many as 12 total teams being involved, equally split between the west and Central Canada. The league would wrap up with a Final Four-type championship weekend, likely at a neutral site.
In terms of what teams would be involved, it’s said that the clubs or groups in conversation would all be known to Canadian soccer fans.
The level of play would be above League1 Ontario and the PLSQ, it is felt. Some of the clubs in those leagues with greater ambition would be welcome to join the new league.
The idea would be that the winner would gain a spot in the Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup.
Importantly, the league would launch with a concrete plan for a women’s division. In fact, the hope is that there would be a women’s competition in 2022 as well, if perhaps slightly smaller in scale (maybe just a tournament attached to the Championship Weekend, with a full launch in 2023).
Unfortunately, the planning for this league evolved out of a believe that the CanPL was too risky of a step for those involved. That backs up what I’ve been told elsewhere in regard to CanPL expansion. Outside of possibly a Quebec based team, there are no likely candidates for earlier for 2023. Even that Quebec team is iffy, I’m told.
The chance of another Prairie team coming on board is over next three years is next to zero.
The caveat to this is an unexpected investor coming into the league, like we saw with Atletico Madrid. There’s nothing to suggest that will happen right now, however.
I’ll have more on this soon…