If you were to list Canadian soccer markets from the largest down, where would you put Ottawa? Fourth-best? Maybe fifth?
Truth is, Ottawa is a crucial soccer market in Canada… as proven by Ottawa Fury. Interested parties from MLS, USL, and NASL had seen this potential since the 2010s as one of Canada’s largest media markets. The Fury proved this city and surrounding area was more than capable of holding onto a club, as the 1.3-million people in the Ottawa-Gatineau area came out to TD Place – always in the top half of league attendances with growing numbers, the Fury proved an important asset as a club in American leagues.
Now within a Canadian league and framework, it’s about extending that Ottawa pro soccer influence well into the future. Can Ottawa’s professional club give a greater contribution to the game in this country in a fully Canadian setup? Most certainly.
Tying Atletico Madrid to the Canadian soccer scene
“If I was a Canadian boy, whether I was playing with that Ottawa or elsewhere, I know there are going to eyes across the globe looking at players in this league,” CanPL commissioner David Clanachan said.
It’s true. A massive, worldwide soccer brand has its hands on a league, and a player pool, that is only just being discovered. Imagine a player rising through the youth ranks now, only hoping to a league where he can score against Atleti? Or be put into Atleti’s worldwide scouting system? It’s enticing, for sure.
Incredible fan support
Ottawa’s supporters culture, just as the soccer market, has one of the best in Canada for years. Attendance for the Fury has always been good, same goes for when Canada’s women’s team comes town. More importantly, groups like Bytown Boys and Stony Monday Riot have shown longevity, since they have roots that stretch long past the Fury and into the early 2010s.
A swell of support like this does not deserve to be without football for a year or more. In comes the CPL, which keeps the momentum going.
Strengthening the roots of a city’s supporters scene is of the utmost importance for the game in this country. For Ottawa, a city with an impressive following, keeping professional soccer there is the key.
First bilingual market part of CanPL
CPL’s first foray into the more French-speaking areas of this country comes on the south side of the Ottawa River.
Let’s be clear – this is far from bringing clubs to Montreal and Quebec City, markets that deserve CanPL opportunities, too. But, it is a step in the right direction as CanPL looks to accommodate the Francophones of Canadian soccer.