2023 CPL Roster Rules & Regulations

as of March 17th, 2023

The following is a series of excerpts and summary interpretations from the official CPL Competitions Manual and CPL Operations Manual that formally govern play within the CPL.

At all times during the League Season, a Club’s Primary Roster must include:

  • A minimum of 20 players
  • A maximum of 23 players
  • A minimum of two (2) goalkeepers
  • A minimum of three (3) Domestic Players 21 years-of-age or under (player must be a maximum
    of 21 years old by the end of the calendar year in which the League Season starts – i.e., for the
    2023 League Season, players born January 1 st , 2002, or later.)
  • A maximum of seven (7) International Players. At all times, 50% of all CPL Club’s International
    Players must be U23 (born January 1 st , 2000 or later). If a CPL Club wishes to utilize the
    maximum seven (7) International Players, the 7 th signed International Player must be U21 (born
    January 1 st , 2002 or later)


A Club’s Master Roster includes its Primary Roster plus its Development Roster. Only players on a Club’s
Master Roster are eligible to play in any League, Canadian Championship, or Concacaf Champions
League match.

The intent of the Developmental Roster is to provide an amateur player the opportunity to be included
in a professional Club’s Master Roster without losing the ability to train and play with the amateur team
who holds his registration. The Developmental Roster is not bound by a termed period in which the
player may be included in a game day roster or play in a professional match. All Developmental Players
must be U18 (born January 1st , 2005, or later) to be eligible to sign a Developmental Contract in the CPL.
The following is the framework for Developmental Contracts:

  • A Club may have up to four (4) Developmental players holding a Developmental Contract at any
    one time included in their Developmental Roster. Such Developmental Players are not
    contracted by the CPL Club and remain registered with their current team. Developmental
    Players will not count towards a Club’s Primary Roster.
  • A Developmental Contract will only be granted to Players who qualify as “Domestic” as defined
    in this Manual.
  • Only players registered with a Member Association in membership of Canada Soccer are eligible
    for a Developmental Contract.
  • The initial step is for the CPL Club to make an application for a development permit through the
    respective Member Association. The CPL Club will then submit the development permit and a
    Developmental Standard Player Contract to the League Office. Upon League Office approval, a
    CPL Club will then enter the player’s application into Canada Connect, including uploading both
    the development permit and Developmental Standard Player Contract for approval by Canada
  • The Developmental Contract allows for the player to appear in a total of three (3) games with
    the CPL Club. Exhibition games will count towards the three (3) game limit, with no time limit for
    the completion of these games. Within 48 hours of each match in which the DevelopmentalPlayer appears, the CPL Club must declare the match details to Canada Soccer and the CPL
    League Office (type of match, opponent, date of match).
  • A Development Player must step on the field for the appearance to count against the three (3)
    game total. An unused substitute will not use up one of the three potential appearances.
  • Developmental Players are still eligible to play games for their current amateur team.
  • In any one calendar year, a Developmental Player may receive a maximum of two (2)
    Developmental Contracts. These may be used for one CPL Club twice, or two CPL Clubs, once
  • Regardless of the number of games remaining on the Developmental Contract, a Developmental
    Player may request at any time that his Developmental Contract be cancelled, which will be
    approved. A Club can also terminate a Developmental Contract at any time.
  • Developmental Players are eligible to be signed to a professional contract. The Developmental
    Player must advise the CPL Club to which the Developmental Contract is granted if an offer of a
    professional contract has been made.
  • Developmental Players may receive expenses from the CPL Club up to a maximum amount of
    $250 CDN per week. Developmental Player expenses are to be declared to the CPL League Office
    by the CPL Club and accounted for in accordance with CPL rules and policies.
  • In instances where a Developmental Contract has been terminated the Developmental Player or
    the CPL Club, the CPL Club must provide written notice to the League Office within 24 hours of

CPL Clubs that wish to sign a player to a Developmental Contract should request the Developmental
Contract template from the League Office. Developmental Contracts must include all relevant player and
Club information as well as a signed validation from the Developmental Player, the Provincial/Territorial
Soccer Association, the team that holds the Developmental Player’s current registration, and the CPL

The Developmental Roster, separate from the Primary Roster and part of the Master Roster, shall always
have a maximum of one (1) goalkeeper.

A U SPORTS player is defined as an identified undergraduate student athlete, domestic or international,
who is academically and participation eligible to continue with their U SPORTS varsity program and
education institution. These players are eligible to sign a U SPORTS Player Contract with the CPL. This
contract has been developed in conjunction with U SPORTS administration and allows the athlete to
retain their U SPORTS eligibility.

Contracts end August 15 of that given season. All compensation to the player is provided in the form of
tuition support through an Academic Financial Award from their registering university. Past August 15,
the player may either be retained or released by their CPL Club, or they may return to their U SPORTS

At all times during the CPL League Season, Club’s must have a minimum of three (3) Domestic Players 21
years-of-age or under on their Primary Roster.
Further, U-21 Domestic Players must play a combined minimum of 2,000 minutes in League matches
over the course of the 28-game 2023 CPL regular season.
Minutes played by players on a Club’s Canadian Developmental Roster are included in the 2,000-minute
calculation. However, Developmental Players do not qualify towards the minimum of three (3) U-21
Domestic Players that must be included on a Club’s Primary Roster.
A CPL League match may only include a total of 90 minutes recorded. Any added time by the referee will
not be included in the calculation of a Club’s U-21 Domestic Player minutes.
U-21 Domestic minute calculations will utilize data from OPTA, the League’s data provider.
A “U-21 Domestic Player” is a Domestic Player that is a maximum of 21 years old by the end of the
calendar year in which the League Season starts – i.e., for the 2023 League Season, players born January
1st , 2002, or later.

  • For the 2023 League Season: players born January 1st , 2002, or later.

A U SPORTS Player may count towards U-21 Domestic minutes if such player meets the age threshold.
Incoming loan players that meet U-21 Domestic Player requirements are part of the Primary Roster and
therefore count towards the 2,000-minute calculation. However, incoming loan players can only
contribute up to a maximum of 50% of the required U-21 Domestic Player minutes during each season
(i.e., a maximum of 1,000 minutes).


U-21 playing minutes are tracked by Club and can be seen here

The home Club must dress 18 players from its Master Roster, two of which must be goalkeepers.
The visiting Club must dress between 16-18 players from its Master Roster, two of which must be
Both the home and visiting Club are required to start each League match with:

  • A minimum of six (6) Domestic Players in their starting line-up (i.e., 6 of 11 players)
  • A maximum of five (5) International Players in their starting line-up (i.e., 5 of 11 players)

There are no restrictions on substitutions regarding Domestic Players or International Players.

More information on The IFAB’s Concussion Substitution Protocol B is available here at

The following salary parameters for CPL players are applicable for the 2023 CPL Budget Year (January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023): 

Player salary minimum: $750,000 
Player salary maximum: $1,025,000 (“Salary Cap”)    

From April 1, 2023, through the end of the 2023 League Season, Clubs must remain between the minimum and the maximum player expense amounts. 

All U21 players will hit the cap at 50% of their total compensation up to a maximum benefit of $100,000 per Club per CPL Budget Year (e.g., U21 total spend of $200,000 would hit the cap at $100,000).

The following salary levels for Club technical staff are applicable to the 2023 CPL Budget Year:

Technical Cap Roles

The following salary parameters for CPL technical staff are applicable for the 2023 CPL Budget Year (January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023): 

Technical salary minimum: $425,000 

Technical salary maximum: $550,000       

The following are required full-time technical staff positions for all CPL Clubs. The individuals in these roles must meet the minimum licensing standards:

Head Coach (ON CAP): Canada Soccer ‘A’ License (or equivalent from a foreign jurisdiction)

Assistant Coach (ON CAP): Canada Soccer ‘B’ License (or equivalent from a foreign jurisdiction)

2nd Assistant Coach (ON CAP): Canada Soccer ‘B’ License (or equivalent from a foreign jurisdiction) *Can also be Physical & Strength Conditioning Coach (Fitness Coach) if fully qualified for both roles

Goalkeeping Coach (ON CAP): No minimum license requirement but preference for a goalkeeping license from a recognized football federation or governing body.

Physical & Strength Conditioning Coach (Fitness Coach) (ON CAP): Strength & conditioning/fitness degree from an accredited university (e.g., MScPT) OR a certificate/qualification from a recognized football federation or regulatory body (e.g., NSCA, CSCS, CSEP) *Can also be 2nd assistant coach if fully qualified for both roles.

Medical and Admin Support Roles

Club Manager/Administrator (ON CAP): N/A

Equipment Manager (ON CAP): N/A 

The following technical staff positions, while encouraged, are not required and, if employed by a Club, would remain off-cap (license requirements listed as relevant):

Optional Positions

Athletic Therapist (OFF CAP): (require CAT(C) certification of equivalency)

Assistant/Part-Time AT/PT Services (OFF CAP): N/A

Sports Science Role (OFF CAP): No minimum license requirements but preference provided for a sports science degree from an accredited university OR a formal license/certificate from a recognized football federation or governing body. 

GM/Sporting Director (OFF CAP): N/A

Data/Video Analyst/Scouts (ON CAP): N/A

3rd Assistant Coach (ON CAP): N/A

For the 2023 League Season, transfer windows for Canada are:  

  • Window #1:
    • Starts: January 31, 2023
    • Ends: April 24, 2023
  • Window #2:
    • Starts: July 5, 2023
    • Ends: August 2, 2023

Club rosters will be frozen as of 5:00pm on September 1st, 2023. Except for the two extreme hardship categories, after this date no roster changes are permitted. After the roster freeze date, Clubs may still release players but may not sign any new players to their Master Roster.

A Club is permitted to buy-out a player’s contract to free up salary cap space in future seasons, provided that the Club has available cap space in the current CPL Budget Year. The agreed to “buy-out” amount, or a portion of it, may be applied to the Club’s cap in the current CPL Budget Year. Any amount exceeding the Club’s salary cap in the current CPL Budget Year would be applied to the following CPL Budget Year. 

A Club that “buys out” a player is not permitted to sign that same player until one full season or calendar year, whichever is earlier, from the date of the buy-out. A “bought out” player immediately becomes a free agent. 

For example, if Player A has a guaranteed contract for the following season at $50,000 in total on-cap expenses, and the Club wishes to buy-out Player A’s contract in the current season to save cap space in the following season, the Club must ensure that they have $50,000 in available cap space during the current season. The $50,000 is then applied to the current season’s cap spending and is removed from the following season’s spending. Player A may then sign a new contract with any Club but will be prohibited from signing with the Club who bought them out for one full season or calendar year, whichever is earlier.

Salary budget calculations will include any player “buy-out” costs that occur during the CPL Budget Year. 

If a Club buys-out a player’s contract, such Club is prohibited from assisting the player in securing off- field employment with any Club partner or other entity in which the Club has a direct interest or business affiliation.      

Any “buy-out” of a player contract must be approved by the League Office.          

Transfer Fees

Any transfer fee included in the acquisition of a player will count towards a Club’s salary cap starting in the CPL Budget Year of the player’s SPC effective date. 

If a Club pays a transfer fee for an incoming player and has available salary cap space, the Club may elect to have the full transfer fee amount hit the salary cap in the current CPL Budget Year. Alternatively, the Club may amortize the transfer fee across the total number of years of the player’s contract, including Club option years. If a player is sold or released before the end of his CPL contract, any remaining transfer fee paid for the player will be applied to the current CPL Budget Year. 

Player Sale Proceeds against the Salary Cap     

A Club that receives a transfer fee for a player sale may deduct such fee from the Club’s salary budget as follows: 

Any incoming transfer fee will be deducted from compensation already paid to the player in the current CPL Budget Year, reducing the Club’s salary cap hit for such player. For example, if the player had a CPL contract for $30,000/season and had been paid $7,000 at the time he was sold for $5,000, only $2,000 of the $7,000 paid to the player would count towards the Club’s salary budget for the current CPL Budget Year. 

A Club cannot benefit to a greater extent than compensation paid to date to a CPL player in the current CPL Budget Year. For example, if a Club receives a transfer fee of $50,000 for a player and has paid or owes such player $40,000 in the current CPL Budget Year, the Club’s cap hit for such player will be $0 (and not -$10,000).    

Season-Ending Injury 

Upon receipt of a formal letter from a Club’s medical staff outlining details surrounding a severe player injury that will prohibit such player from participating for the remainder of the CPL League Season, the League Office may classify the player as having a Season-Ending Injury. Should the League Office approve a Season-Ending Injury, the player will be placed on the Club’s Inactive List.   

The full process for placing a player on Season-Ending Injury is as follows:

  • The CPL Club alerts the League Office that it believes that a player has sustained a Season-Ending Injury.
  • The League Office forwards Season-Ending Injury statutory declarations to the CPL Club (the League Office may also provide estimated salary cap relief calculation as requested).
  • The CPL Club formally requests that the player be deemed to have a Season-Ending Injury and placed on the Club’s Inactive List for the remainder of the League Season, providing statutory declarations and medical diagnosis in support of request.
  • The League Office approves or denies the request. With League approval, and if eligible, calculation of salary cap relief will be formally provided (note: salary cap relief currently limited to one player per team).
  • The Club can then replace player in accordance with roster and salary cap rules.

So long as a Club abides by all CPL roster and salary cap rules, a Season-Ending Replacement Player may be signed. 

Upon League Office determination that a player has a Season-Ending Injury, a Club may be provided with roster and salary cap relief under the following parameters:

  • The dollar value of any salary cap relief cannot exceed the remaining 2023 salary payable to the injured player (i.e., cap relief is calculated on a pro-rata basis). For example, where the League Office approves a Season-Ending Injury and such player was earning a salary of $30,000 for the period of January 1st, 2023 to December 31st, 2023 ($2,500 per month), a Club would receive the following salary cap relief to sign a Season-Ending Injury Replacement Player for the balance of the 2023 League Season:
  • Season-Ending Injury date of April 1st, 2023: $22,500 (9 months remaining on 2023 contract / 9 * $2,500)
  • Season-Ending Injury date of August 1st, 2023: $12,500 (5 months remaining on 2023 contract / 9 * $2,500)
  • Salary cap relief will also be provided for other on-cap categories (e.g., housing), with any expense limited to the amount that the injured player was eligible to receive.
  • A Club is limited to salary cap relief for one (1) Season-Ending Injury per League Season.

A player moved to a Club’s Inactive List with a Season-Ending Injury cannot return to play through the remainder of the current League Season, even if that player recovers sooner than expected.