The Canadian Premier League officially launched its first club on Thursday, as staff from the league were on hand at Vaughan City Hall to unveil York 9 FC. League president Paul Beirne and commissioner David Clanachan sat on a stage with the new team’s owners, Preben Ganzhorn and former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan.
As we already knew, York 9 FC represents the nine municipalities of York Region (Vaughan, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Aurora, East Gwillimbury, King, Whitechurch-Stouffville, Georgina). The club’s primary colours seem to be black and green, as indicated by their crest.
York 9 FC will begin their inaugural season at York University’s stadium, and they’re expecting to be there for about two years. Meanwhile, the club plans on building a 12-15,000 seat soccer-specific stadium to call their permanent home.
A York 9 supporters’ group, known as Generation IX, was also present at the launch event to help kick things off. They unveiled a black and green banner and showcased a couple of chants.
“You look at people who are coming to our country, [soccer is] the sport they know,” said Clanachan.
The commissioner wasn’t able to reveal much more about the league’s internal workings, but he did put a few things in perspective. He reasserted that promotion and relegation is an ultimate goal for the CPL, suggesting that we could see a second or even third division one day. In terms of league sponsorship, Clanachan was confident that they’ve had interest, from outside of Canada as well as within.
The CPL could certainly use some kind of partnership to help out with travel cost in the early years; Halifax to B.C. is one hell of an away day. The Toronto Wolfpack‘s relationship with Air Transat may be a good example for the CPL to follow.
Clanachan also helped put his view of the league in perspective with the other established soccer institutions in North America. He conceded that MLS is a completely different kind of league, not necessarily a competitor for the CPL. He called the Canadian Premier League a “missing block” in the Canadian development pathway.
“There’s a natural progression from OPDL to League1 [Ontario] to the Canadian Premier League,” he said. “There was one missing block, and this league will provide that stepping stone for Canadian youth and players to move to the next level.”
The CPL will be announcing more clubs as the weeks go on, in the leadup to the World Cup. We’re already fairly confident that Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary, and B.C. will comprise the remaining teams, although it’s possible the league actually has another couple of cities in mind, including Saskatoon.
We still don’t know a whole lot about the remaining clubs, save for a few stadium locations and possible names, not to mention pre-existing club branding and infrastructure (in Ottawa and Edmonton). There’s a lot of work to do for the CPL, which has committed to its start date in spring 2019. Coaching staffs, player pools, facilities, and sponsorships all need to come into place within a year, as well as a full competition structure and salary model.