The Canadian Premier League is targeting a 2018 kickoff after completing its first phase of development, according to a report.
The report comes from a tweet by Anthony Totera of Red Card Radio. It has since been confirmed by Duane Rollins of Canadian Soccer News, the journalist who initially reported the fact that a Canadian league was in development.
While details about the proposed new Canadian professional soccer league have always been few and far between, their release came to a full standstill this past summer. This caused many to doubt whether or not the league had actually left the planning stage, and whether it was dead in the water.
Boom Sources seconds ago confirm to me that the first phase of the Canadian pro league is done target date for 2018 ⚽️ #CPL— A. Totera (@4totera) September 8, 2016
Initial reports suggested that the league could kick off as early as next summer, but delays have changed targets to two years time. The Canadian Soccer Association has always been upfront about the fact that they want this league to be done correctly, and have been doing their due diligence to make sure that it has a chance to be successful.
The league is expected to be a tier-1 professional league competing alongside the NASL and Major League Soccer. The league would operate out of Hamilton, which would house one of the six to eight franchises that will be in the league. It has, however, yet to be officially announced by the Canadian Soccer Association.
Canada's currently existing MLS and NASL teams, including Toronto FC, would not be required to play in this league. However, the league is hoping that the NASL franchises, Ottawa Fury and FC Edmonton, will make the jump at some point to the Canadian Premier League. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, however, will almost certainly remain in MLS.
This league is expected to give Canadian soccer players more opportunity in a professional environment, to the benefit of the men's national team. Canada's most recent professional soccer league, the CSL, lost its FIFA approved status in 2013 due to a match-fixing scandal.
More details on this league are expected to emerge over the next couple of days, and as the league moves closer to a 2018 kickoff.