CSA Report Plans for a New League

Youth and community are central in the reports plan for how to reinvigorate Canadian soccer
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, February 07, 2013

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Late in 2011, the Canadian Soccer Association commissioned a report on the viability of a professional Division 2 soccer league in Canada. After a bit more than a year, we have finally seen the result of this work, as summary of the findings has been published.

The report did, however, end up with a recommendation of a regional, semi-professional, development-focused league. It was identified that the main problem for Canadian soccer is that it lacks opportunities for young players to jump from youth soccer to professional soccer. As such, it would benefit Canadian soccer to create a league focused on development, rather than a Canadian version of the NASL.

Some might question the originality and benefit behind this suggestion, as semi-pro leagues already exist in the form of the Pacific Coast Soccer League and the Ontario/Quebec based Canadian Soccer League.

The report suggests fundamental changes to this level of Canadian soccer. First of all, the point of this new league would be to integrate these various leagues across the country in order to not only save money on administration, but also to share the best practices and ensure that all regional leagues have a focus and commitment to developing young, Canadian talent.

A very innovate recommendation within a North American context is that ownership rules should allow for supporters’ trusts and existing amateur clubs to be part of the ownership group, in order to solidify the clubs’ connection to their communities. To help this happen, it is also recommended that the financial demands should be relaxed in the early years, to make it easier for supporters’ trusts and amateur clubs to raise the necessary capital to start the teams.

Finally, it is suggested that the champion of this new league should be rewarded with a spot in the Amway Canadian Championship and given a chance to win the Voyageurs’ Cup.

Rather than being unoriginal, I see the recommendations of the report as being both realistic and innovative. A spot in the Canadian Championship will showcase and test young, Canadian talent at a higher level and tie the different levels of Canadian soccer together. Combining the regional leagues will also ensure the quality and commitment to youth development. And giving communities a chance to own and control their teams will create a better connection between the team and its fans. This is especially relevant in lower tier soccer as this can boost attendance and merchandise sales, thus improving the financial viability of the teams.

In my opinion, community ownership will likely increase profits and profit stability as the community will be committed to its team. It will in also help create teams in cities where there hasn’t been sufficient interest in private ownership of soccer teams thus far, such as the Prairies, outside of Edmonton and the Maritimes.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.