A message to all CPL Fans: An open letter from Commissioner David Clanachan

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Dear CPL Supporters,

As the Canadian Premier League wraps its second year, a year full of challenges for everyone, all of our experiences – professionally and personally – have been significant.

This global pandemic has affected so many and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by the virus. We hope you and your loved ones are and remain healthy and safe.

As a League we were faced with many challenges – biggest of all – finding a way to play our season for our fans and supporters, while the health and safety of everyone was our top priority.

Looking back, our second year kicked off on an upwards trajectory following the success in our inaugural year. We welcomed our eighth club, Atlético Ottawa backed by Atlético de Madrid, one of the world’s most iconic and successful soccer brands, stamping its approval of our League. Our launch of their identity and logo to many incredibly passionate fans at TD Place in February was fantastic. Shortly thereafter, our seven founding clubs launched their new 2020 home Macron kits in their markets that celebrated each Club’s community and fans.

We then kicked off a partnership with EA SPORTS launching the first all-Canadian eCPL League and we launched our newly formatted 2020 schedule that provided fans with a more competitive season. It was designed to create more exciting matches right to the end of the season – because you told us that you preferred that format and we listened.

We were well on our way towards another exciting year that was filled with ideas and events that the League knew our fans and supporters were anticipating. Our goal was to outdo what we had accomplished in 2019. But in March, we made the decision to halt our pre-season training and eventually delay the start of our 2020 season because of the pandemic.

To many we were quiet too long not knowing if we would play a season, but behind the scenes this was not the case. The next four months were spent working tirelessly towards delivering a season – somewhere, somehow.

With four cities and provinces willing to host us, we ultimately created a partnership with Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to successfully execute and safely host The 2020 Island Games. With the support of our Owners, Players, Staff, the province of PEI, the city of Charlottetown, the Chief Public Health Officer, our sponsors and partners and so many others, the result was something we will always be truly proud of – a unique season that was exciting and safe for all. With your support, we played when many thought it couldn’t be done.

There is no doubt that our game is a sport that thrives on supporters in the stands but this year our Clubs experienced the power and support of our fans by seeing thousands join the CPL Collective to make their presence known even though they couldn’t be at the games – for this loyalty – Thank You!

By choosing to focus on innovation, creativity, engaging play and being nimble, we delivered 35 exciting action-packed matches in 37 days and a memorable final between our “Cinderella” HFX Wanderers and the 2019 Champions – Forge FC. Throughout The Island Games and the challenges of being sequestered in a bubble, we showcased the incredible talent of the CPL Players and Coaches. Our season became one of innovation by bringing the best possible visual experience for our fans to enjoy by partnering with OneSoccer to introduce Canada’s first-ever virtual stadium for a professional sporting event. We were able to reach 135 million households around the globe through our broadcasts. All of this was due to our partners at OneSoccer who were able to bring all 35 matches to our fans live with their partners at CBC Sports, Fox Sports, CHCH TV and 1SPORTS.

Creativity also became the battle cry for the CPL in 2020 and to rise to the challenge for our fans and partners in a virtual world. We made this a priority by releasing our documentary “From Stone” that celebrated the talented Inuit carvers behind the Canadian Premier League Awards while telling the story behind each unique piece. We unveiled our City Edition Canadian Premier League kits – all eight Clubs connected by a unique theme linking each jersey to the city identities in a unique and creative way.

On the field, the play was engaging, and we continued to impress with the talent in our league – by continuing to showcase incredible U-21 players and introducing our first expansion Club. Our 2020 Champions – Forge FC – sacrificed so much by traveling to El, Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Honduras while advancing to the Quarterfinals of CONCACAF League.

We were proud and stood with our Players in support of Black Lives Matter and we are committed to taking action to work towards change. We are focused on making a powerful impact in our communities, helping to bring positive change by using our platform and our voice to support racial equality and inclusiveness. What has been started by our Players, our Clubs and the League will continue to build and grow in 2021 and beyond.

All of this and we still can look forward to what will prove to be an epic Canadian Championship with our own Forge FC battling Toronto FC for the Voyageurs Cup – what a finish!

What can we expect for 2021?

We continue to plan, recognizing that adaptability, innovation and creativity will bring success. Much of what will happen is in the hands of health authorities ensuring we all remain safe. Most importantly, we will play in 2021. We did it in 2020 and now, with the experience, knowledge and insights we have there is no doubt we will deliver a 2021 season to our fans!

Our commitment to the many who stood by us in our second year remains our top priority in the Canadian Premier League! We are confident that together we will get through this most challenging time and we are fully dedicated to delivering another season to remember.

We want to thank you for standing us by us, thank you to our fans, our season seat holders, our Collective members and our sponsors – this is a year that without the support of many we would not have been able to achieve what we did. So again, thank you for your support.

In a year that we were truly inspired by the selflessness of healthcare workers around the world working tirelessly to care for people in need, we wish everyone the best of health. Continue to be safe and enjoy this time with your family and friends.

We Are Many, We Are One never meant more than it did this year.

Happy Holidays,

David Clanachan, Commissioner, Canadian Premier League