Canadian Premier League announces updates to competition guidelines ahead of 2024 season

Changes to discipline, tiebreakers, concussion substitutions to be implemented during League’s sixth season.

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) today announced several changes to its competition guidelines, which will be implemented during the League’s sixth season, beginning Saturday, April 13.

These changes include updates to the Yellow Card Accumulation Rule and the Good Behaviour Incentive, which are governed by Canada Soccer, as well as changes to the league’s regular-season tiebreakers and its concussion substitutions.

“We are looking forward to implementing the following changes in 2024, as we believe they will positively impact the quality of our on-field product and the competitiveness of our league,” said Costa Smyrniotis, Executive Vice President, Football, Canadian Premier League. “We appreciate the collaboration from Canada Soccer on the changes to these disciplinary matters, as we continue to work toward making all of our competition guidelines as equitable as possible while maintaining the integrity of the game.”

Yellow Card Accumulation Rule

Starting in 2024, a player will receive an automatic one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation when he is issued a fifth, eighth and eleventh yellow card, respectively. Previously, a CPL player received an automatic suspension following the accumulation of his fourth, eighth and twelfth yellow cards, for one, two and three matches, respectively. 

Also beginning this season, the yellow card accumulation rule for team officials will reset to zero at the end of the regular season. A team official will still be required to serve any outstanding suspension for yellow card accumulation issued during the regular season in the playoffs. For example, if a team official receives their third yellow card during the last regular-season match, they will be suspended for the first match of the playoffs.

Good Behaviour Incentive

Canada Soccer’s Good Behaviour Incentive, which reduces a player’s yellow card accumulation total by one such caution after a player goes five consecutive matches without receiving any disciplinary sanctions, can be applied up to three times during the regular season, as opposed to twice in 2023. For a match to count toward the Good Behaviour Incentive, a player is required to enter the field of play as a starter or substitute. A player’s five-game streak will not be affected if he is an unused substitute or not included on the matchday roster.


If one or more Clubs finish the 2024 regular season with the same number of points, tiebreakers will be exercised in the following order: 

  1. Total number of wins
  2. Head-to-Head* (New in 2024)
  3. Goal Differential
  4. Goals For
  5. Away goals differential
  6. Away goals for
  7. Home goals differential 
  8. Home goals for
  9. Fewest Disciplinary Points* (New in 2024)
  10. Most Under-21 Domestic Player Minutes
  11. Coin toss (tie between two clubs) or drawing of lots (tie between three or more clubs) 

Concussion substitutions

Each CPL club will be permitted one concussion substitution per regular season and playoff match in 2024, in alignment with the International Football Association Board (IFAB)’s recent decision to make concussion substitutes a permanent part of the Laws of the Game. CPL Clubs were previously permitted two concussions substitutions per CPL match in 2023. When a concussion substitute is used in a CPL match, the opposing club may then use an additional substitute for any reason. 

Find more information as it relates to the CPL’s Competition Guidelines here.