The Canadian Premier League is coming to mainland British Columbia.
CPL commissioner David Clanachan announced on Wednesday that the league has officially awarded an expansion club to Vancouver, BC, to be owned and operated by SixFive Sports and Entertainment LP. The Vancouver club will be the ninth team to officially join the CPL, expecting to begin play in the 2023 season.
SixFive, a Canadian-based investment fund, is run by managing partner Dean Shillington (also the founder of Knightsbridge Capital in Vancouver) and former Canadian men’s national team players and SixFive investors Rob Friend and Josh Simpson, as well as Toronto-based commercial real estate and asset management company Starlight Investments.
“We are excited to bring the Canadian Premier League to Vancouver,” SixFive co-founder Shillington said in a statement. “We are currently speaking to several municipalities about a location and a potential new stadium for this club’s home pitch. Growing the league and investing in the Canadian game is our mission and we are thrilled to bring a new, fan-centric and energizing CPL team to Vancouver.”
The ownership group has not yet revealed where exactly the new club will play, with a variety of options in the Vancouver area potentially on the table.
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“It’s important that our big cities in this country get to see the Canadian Premier League play,” Clanachan added on Wednesday. “We all understand linear and OTT broadcasting is very important for that, but the reality is it’s important for young people, for families, for young adults, for soccer enthusiasts to actually be able to sit in the stands and see players play, and get a good feeling for the game.”
The Vancouver team will be the second expansion club to join the CPL’s original seven teams, after Atlético Ottawa — backed by Spanish club Atlético de Madrid — entered the league ahead of the 2020 season. The rights to negotiate for another future expansion team in Saskatchewan were also awarded to Living Sky Sports & Entertainment in March 2021, although Clanachan confirmed there are still several conditions for that group to clear before officially joining the league as a 10th club.
Of course, the commissioner also confirmed that the league continues to discuss further expansion across Canada with a variety of possible ownership groups.
“We are here to grow, we’ve said this from day one,” Clanachan said. “We’re here to grow the game, we’re here to grow the talent, not only on the field but off the field whether it be administrators, coaches, assistant coaches, could be physiotherapists, everybody involved that we need to grow the game. The growth is everything. One of the things we are very clear on is we will continue to expand the league, we have a big country, a good sized population that we’ve just started to scratch the surface on. The key will be, we need the support…
“The cadence of how we do it is really important. I just went through this with a couple of our folks, probably at this point I’m still looking at a potential of four to six clubs that are talking to us right now.”
Clanachan added that the league is confident in the Vancouver expansion side’s potential for success, given the population and thriving soccer community of British Columbia.
“BC has done a great job over decades of developing young players, putting a lot of players into the national teams, both men’s and women’s,” Clanachan said. “It’s important that we continue to grow that. I think there’s tons of opportunity out there, and it really boils down to what does the fanbase look like. And we know that there are rabid sports fans, there really are. People like to go watch sports in person, and they follow their teams and they’re proud of those teams. I think now there’s tons of room, and we’re very, very pleased that we can do that at this point.”
Currently, the Canadian Premier League is nearing the conclusion of its third season, with Playoffs set to begin on Saturday, November 20 as the four remaining clubs compete for this year’s North Star Shield. All CPL matches are available to stream live on OneSoccer.
Fans looking to stay in tune to updates about the CPL’s expansion to Vancouver can sign up at Vancouver2023.ca.