‘Aggressive numbers’: Commissioner Clanachan confirms season length, roster rules

TORONTO – Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan knows the next 100 days will be packed with plenty to do, as he guides the CPL to kicking off the inaugural 2019 season.

With the CPL launching in late April, Clanachan is hard at work finalizing the crucial parts of the league’s functions, as he and the rest of the executive staff prepare for major announcements involving schedules, broadcast rights, sponsors and many more milestone moments.

“I joke about it, that starting Jan. 1, this world started spinning around a lot faster,” Clanachan told Sportsnet’s John Molinaro, when asked about his work over the next few months. “The pressure cranks up. But that’s good. We’ve already accomplished a lot, but now we’re putting the final things in order.

“At the same time, we’re also working with all the teams and trying to co-ordinate seven teams. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but coordinating seven teams and making sure we’re all in the same cadence, it’s not easy.”

With more details to come, Clanachan also took the time to shed some light on some of the CPL’s roster regulations.

“The roster rules require that every CPL team has … a minimum of six Canadian starters per game,” Clanachan told Sportsnet. “Those are pretty aggressive numbers, and I’m not sure there’s another league in the world that has those kinds of aggressive numbers when it comes to domestic players.”

Despite the domestic priority, those rules don’t preclude teams from signing international players – HFX Wanderers FC, for example, signed a quartet of players from Trinidad and Tobago, while Cavalry FC recently added Brazilian striker Oliver Minatel.

“We’re only allowing a maximum of seven foreign nationals per team. We know that our main goal is to develop Canadian talent,” Clanachan affirmed.

The Commissioner also teased the league’s format, keeping in line with the previous notions that it would not be a traditional single-table competition.

But, he revealed, it will be “a 28-game season the first year, with 14 games at home and 14 away for each team,” adding that the season will run from April to October.

 Roster developments, schedules and format all make for an exciting first stanza of the year as the CPL inches closer to its historic kick off.

Still, Clanachan knows there’s more history to be made down the line. More of everything – players, games and even clubs – will be coming down the pipeline, too.

“In five years, that’s just before the 2026 World Cup, I’d like to be at a point where we’re somewhere between 14 and 16 teams in the CPL,” Clanachan once again affirmed. “At that point, I’d be seriously starting to think about promotion and relegation. I’ve been clear about that from the start.

“Promotion is like winning a giant lottery for those teams – it’s a game changer for those teams – and relegation battles add intrigue to the league. So, I’d love to be in that position where we have promotion and relegation at that point and time, if not sooner.”

Read Molinaro’s entire conversation with Clanachan here.