It’s coming…. Eventually. A full fledged pro soccer league in Canada (Or rumors of it).
Once this league is a go, it’s going to be a dream come true for Canadian soccer fans, who have been craving for a full time, top-tier professional soccer in the Great White North (except for Major League Soccer in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal).
Remember the last experiment? The Canadian Soccer League between 1987-1992? Remember the Sunday night game of the week on TSN featuring Vic Rauter and Graham Leggat? Those were the days. Eventually, the league died, with the Winnipeg Fury winning the last championship in 1992.
Now, nearly 25 years later after the CSL’s demise, a Canadian pro soccer league has a much better chance of succeeding now, than in 1992. Why?
Globalization has changed how we perceived soccer in some aspects of North American culture. While the big four leagues dominate (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA), MLS is growing. Market analysts suggest millennials, and the Latino‘s as key demographics in soccer, its easy to understand why “The Beautiful Game” just keeps growing.
However, I don’t think this will be a slam dunk for the Canadian Premier League to capture the hearts of all 35.16 million Canucks, right away. Hockey remains the dominant sport in Canada, and likely will for the foreseeable future. A lot of work is needed to ensure a successful start, and for a prosperous future.
- A national television contract announced on Day one. Yes, you need television. It’sI would predict TSN, to be a major partner in this. TSN recently signed on with the Canadian Soccer Association to show national team and Amway Cup championship games. I would expect a TSN-type broadcaster to show perhaps 1-3 games a week. Ideally, it would be great if the CBC, could sign on as well, and do a “Game of the Week” during the summer time when the NHL is in summertime hibernation. Nonetheless, just having these games streamed online is not enough. If this league credibility among the media on day one, a major television contract is needed.
- Second key point is creating a supporters club culture. It took years for MLS to understand this, and now it’s starting to pay off. Clubs including NYCFC, Portland, Montreal, and Seattle have vibrant supporters sections, which add flavor to a soccer game. Look, it’s good to target suburban soccer moms, but at the end of the day, a league without its supports sections is a dead duck.
People are more accepting about this great game here in Canada in 2016. It’s going to be a grind starting on day one. Collaboration between league management, owners, fans, will ensure success. Getting the message out to the Canadian mainstream media, (who despite becoming warmer to soccer, still is blind sometimes) about why this league is the “Real Deal”, will help to build on positive vibes. Look, this is the best shot we got in making professional soccer a success. Once the announcement drops, let’s all get down to work and make this the best league possible.