CPL Commissioner Clanachan talks expansion, pro/rel, growth on Keeping Score podcast

Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan recently appeared on the Keeping Score Podcast, joining host Rick Horrow to discuss the league’s inaugural season, as well as muse upon the future of soccer in Canada.

Keeping Score, a podcast hosted by one of the top analysts of the business side of sports, has an illustrious list of previous guests, including other commissioners of North American sports leagues, from baseball’s Rob Manfred, to the NHL’s Gary Bettman, to Don Garber of MLS.

Clanachan recounted some of the CPL’s core tenets, from developing homegrown talent to providing Canadian fans with the top-flight professional league they’d been missing. He pointed to soccer’s rise as the fastest-growing participation sport in Canada as evidence of its popularity.

Clanachan described some of his goals for the league’s future (both short- and long-term). He reiterated that expansion is a priority, hoping to grow the league by the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“Prior to the 2026 World Cup, where I’d like to be is a 14 to 16-team Premier League, which is the right size for a country of 36 million people,” Clanachan said in the interview.

The commissioner added that he hopes the league might be “on the verge” of cultivating a second division, and thus promotion and relegation, by that point. He maintained his stance on that two-division system, highlighting the benefits of promotion and relegation that other sports don’t have.

“To me, it’s essential in the global game,” Clanachan said.

He added: “It’s one of the things that we have available in global football that other sports do not have, this idea of teams that are playing for their lives at the bottom of the league, and those in the league below are playing for their lives as well in an upward swing.”

Finally, in discussing the CPL’s inaugural year, Clanachan also mentioned the league’s 10-year deal with Mediapro, explaining that partnering with the Spanish company had made more sense than the more traditional media outlets courting the CPL. The commissioner called the deal a “gamechanger,” describing its impact in delivering a 24-hour soccer channel to Canada, via OneSoccer.

Listen to the full podcast, including the entire interview with Commissioner David Clanachan, below.