Canadian Premier League announces new playoff format

Playoff field expanded to five teams; regular season winner, runner-up compete to host final

The Canadian Premier League on Wednesday announced a new five-team playoff format ahead of the League’s milestone fifth season in 2023, ensuring stiffer competition and even more excitement in the battle to be crowned postseason champion.

The top five teams in the League standings at the end of the CPL regular season on Saturday, Oct. 7 will qualify for the 2023 postseason, increasing the field by one team from the 2022 playoff structure. The playoffs will once again consist of five total matches, with each of the CPL regular season’s top four teams guaranteed to host at least once in postseason play.

The new playoff format will ensure postseason hype begins earlier than ever before. Teams will battle not only to be crowned CPL regular season champion, a recognition officially implemented in 2022 by Commissioner Mark Noonan, but for seeding in the CPL regular season standings that may be critical to the length and difficulty of their playoff pathway, as well as their ability to host games at home in front of electric, supportive crowds.

The top two teams in the CPL regular season standings will be rewarded with a more direct path to hosting the CPL Final, fighting to host the big game in their opening match of the playoffs. 

All four games in the run up to the CPL Final will feature different matchups, with the top four seeds guaranteed to host at least one match. Four of the five playoff matches will be knockout events, with an opportunity to host the CPL Final on the line in the lone non-elimination game. 

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Every playoff game will matter, forgoing tense and tentative opening legs of the past.

The playoffs will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 11, when the fifth-place team visits the fourth-place team to open postseason action. 

The winner of that match will advance to face the awaiting third-place team on Saturday, Oct. 14. It will be one of two matches played that day, with the CPL regular season champion hosting the runner-up in the day’s other action. A win in that match will secure a spot in the CPL Final, as well as home field advantage for the victor in the championship match.

The other playoff finalist will be decided in a fourth game, to be contested by the loser of the match between the first- and second-place team and the winner of the match between the third-place team and the victor in the opening game of the playoffs.

“We are excited about this new format because it provides additional incentive to perform well during our regular season and makes every single playoff match essentially a final,” said Mark Noonan, Commissioner, Canadian Premier League. “Win and advance or lose and go home.”

The five-team CPL playoff format.
The five-team CPL playoff format.

The 2023 CPL Final is scheduled to take place the weekend of Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29. All playoff dates are subject to change depending on venue availability.

For the first time this season, any playoff match that is tied after 90 minutes of regulation play will go to extra time — two 15-minute halves played to completion. If a match is still tied after 30 minutes of extra time, the game will be decided in a penalty shootout.

RELATED: ‘A more exciting format, where every team will have a chance’: Reaction to the new CPL playoff bracket

The 2023 CPL playoff champion will earn one of the League’s two spots in the newly expanded Concacaf Champions League, with the other spot going to its regular season champion. The new Concacaf Champions League, which will now include 27 clubs and more than 50 matches, will kick off in 2024.

The 2023 CPL playoffs will be broadcast on dedicated soccer channel OneSoccer, available to all Canadian households through, via Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV devices and with the OneSoccer app for iOS and Android devices. OneSoccer is also available to more than one million Western Canadians as a linear channel on Optik TV (Ch.980), the pay-TV service operated by Telus, one of Canada’s ‘big three’ telecoms companies, as well as on streaming service fuboTV Canada, where it sits alongside a range of other premium sports offerings, including English Premier League and Serie A channels. The 2023 season will also be available to fans abroad through Fox Sports in the United States as well as through other selected broadcasters worldwide and globally through the OneSoccer website and app.