Sadly for Canadian soccer fans, the 2020 CPL season will come to an end on Saturday when Forge FC faces HFX Wanderers FC in the finals from Charlottetown (2:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. AT, on OneSoccer and CBC).
The Island Games produced plenty of excitement and entertainment through the first 34 games, giving supporters a welcome escape from the sobering and harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, CPL Commissioner David Clanachan heralded the level of parity and overall competition on display at The Island Games over the past six weeks.
Clanachan noted that seven of the league’s eight teams were still alive going into the final weekend of the first round, and that FC Edmonton (the lone eliminated side) nearly played the role of spoiler in costing Pacific FC a spot in the second round.
In addition, there was only one game that ended in a “blowout” – Pacific’s 5-0 rout of HFX in the second round, which was the only dead-rubber match of the season.
“The games have been fantastic here in PEI. I’ve been very pleased with the level of parity and the level of competition from the teams. To have seven teams in the running on the final weekend of the first stage was unbelievable. … Overall, it’s been a great success,” Clanachan stated.
Another success story that Clanachan touted was the fact that even though the CPL brought nearly 300 people to PEI, nobody tested positive for COVID-19 during the course of The Island Games.
“We’ve been welcomed here on the Island, and we’ve stuck to our health and safety protocols, and everyone has been very good. Not a positive test at all. … We did exactly what we said we were going to do, and that’s the best part,” Clanachan said.
He later added: “The support we’ve had from the province and city, the provincial health officer and her staff has been fantastic”
Looking ahead, Clanachan said that the league is already starting to prepare for the 2021 season. Plan A is to kick off the campaign next April, with fans in attendance at team’s home stadiums, and for the season to follow a single-table and playoffs format that was supposed to happen this year.
Clanachan also said there are backup plans the CPL is considering. Ho noted that the league’s course of action with regards to the 2021 season will depend on health and safety regulations, and how the pandemic plays out over the next few months.
“I’m approaching next year (that) hopefully we’ll have fans in the stands, and that our supporters can see our teams play live, and that we’ll be past this pandemic that we’ve been dealing with today,” Clanachan offered.
The commissioner also didn’t rule out the possibility of some type of pre-season competition similar to The Island Games as means to bridge the long off-season, and admitted that some CPL teams have even offered to host an invitational tournament prior to the 2021 season.
“I never say no to anything, so I think it would be a very interesting idea,” Clanachan said.