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State of the Union: CPL Commissioner addresses relationship with PFACan

The times, they may be a changin’.

CPL Commissioner David Clanachan gives his “State of the League” address.
Carolina Ruada/Canadian Premier League

HAMILTON, Canada—In his State of the League “fireside chat,” CPL Commissioner David Clanachan addressed the relationship between the league office and the Professional Footballers Association Canada.

Speaking to media assembled in person and over Zoom on Saturday, Clanachan confirmed, “We are having conversations….we’re gonna have further conversations when the season’s over. We’ve agreed to that.”

However, in the league’s infancy and through the COVID19 pandemic, they were “fighting to breathe,” he asserted. “You can’t let anything else inside of your brain, and what you can handle at that point in time” he argued, pointing out that negotiations with a players union would have overtaxed league personnel.

But now, times have changed: “There’s a time and place for everything. The time and place is here now, as we finish the season” he said. “We’ll get to it. No issue with that at all,” he repeated, before highlighting the positive personal relationship he has with players individually.

The potential for collective bargaining in the CPL has been on league followers’ minds from day one. That potential came to the fore when PFACan was formally incorporated in February 2020, just before the pandemic. The response from the league could typically be described as “frosty,” as they twice declined to volunarily recognize the union or engage in collective bargaining.

Then, on December 1, 2021, the CPL twitter account posted this statement from Clanachan:

While a twitter statement does not yet mean “recognition” in a formal sense, and is intentionally vague on its commitments, it strongly signifies that league officials will turn to PFACan as the players’ common voice.

When asked for further comments about why the league’s winds have changed regarding PFACan, Clanachan declined to offer any details, but pointed to a newfound sure-footedness on the part of both players and league administration. “The players—their heads are on right. Not only is their level of maturity on the pitch different, their level of maturity as professional athletes has grown as well, and so has ours,” he said. “I have zero issue, it’s not just them, it takes two. We both have to be like that. We’re ready for it, and I think they’re ready too.” he assured.

You can watch the whole State of the League address here:

The 2021 CPL Final between Forge FC and Pacific FC kicks off Sunday, December 5 at 4:30 pm ET at Tim Hortons Field and on OneSoccer.