Monday, November 1, 2010

CSL expansion for the 2011 season

During halftime at Sunday's Canadian Soccer League final between the Brantford Galaxy and Hamilton Croatia, it was announced that conditional franchises have been awarded to teams in Kitchener, Pickering, Mississauga (Erin Mills) and Ottawa with the new teams expected to start playing next summer. The identity of a fifth team apparently can not be revealed at this point. There have been rumours of interest from the Buffalo, NY area so maybe the delay is for an American based team that still needs to obtain permission from the USSF to play in a Canadian league? Time will tell.

It may come as a surprise to some people that three of the four new teams are based within one hour's drive of Toronto but it really shouldn't be a huge shock. The angle that people never seem to be able to grasp is that a regular travel distance of more than about 2 hours to away games starts to place an intolerable strain on most semi-pro or elite amateur players who play the sport essentially as a hobby in their spare time away from holding down a regular job. The new Ottawa team appears to be linked to a youth academy so maybe they plan to operate using a team comprised of teenagers along the same sort of lines as TFC Academy? If so, it will be interesting to see whether they will be able to field a competitive team given they won't be able to use the possibility of a future contract from the club's full-time professional side to entice players and PDL's Ottawa Fury is already firmly entrenched locally as a competitor in the youth soccer market and has plans to be involved in a new D2 level franchise.

If the CSL are serious about expanding into eastern Ontario and Quebec based on semi-pro teams comprised of adult players they really need to start attracting some of the top clubs in the LSEQ such as Panellenios and Corfinium St-Leonard. With a core nucleus of teams based in the Montreal area travel distances could be kept reasonable and the league would have a legitimate shot at genuine growth in eastern Ontario and Quebec. As things stand with most away games likely to involve a 15 hour round trip to the Golden Horseshoe the CSL's new Ottawa entry is a long shot to survive for more than three seasons. Perhaps the issue that still has not been fully grasped by people based in the GTA is that in other parts of the country the annual National Championship contested by the ten provincial cup winners has always been viewed as the big prize within the sport and there is no obvious need for an entirely new tier of the sport to be added between the existing elite provincial level competitions and genuinely professional leagues such as USSF-D2 and MLS. The CSL should perhaps focus on its area of core strength and be content to be a strong local semi-pro league for the Toronto area similar in setup to the top state leagues in Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney.


  1. I am not sure if i would say the ottawa team is a long shot.There are the ottawa fat cats that play out of the inter county baseball elagvue they do ok and have a very heavy travel schedule.The ottawa invaders play in the northern football conference again a heavy travel schedule but they do ok.The ottawa sooners play out of the ontario football conference and they do well.

  2. Can definitely see where you are coming from but maybe worth bearing in mind that the Fat Cats have only played one season so far and it remains to be seen if they will be viable over the long haul with some of the conditions that were attached to their entry by the Toronto area teams.

    In the context of the Ottawa football teams you mention the other teams tend to have challenging travel schedules as well because there tends to be more of a one city one franchise format, while in the CSL the GTA based teams have travel commitments that are not too dissimilar to that of a top OCSL side because most of the teams are based in one relatively small area geographically.

    That means Ottawa FC won't be competing on a level playing field in that regard making it significantly more difficult for them to field a competitive team. If the team struggles like London City tends to, based in part on issues associated with a much shorter travel distance, spectator interest is likely to dwindle rapidly.

  3. Well the fat cats are expected to come back for a 2nd year maybe 4-6 years from now they won't be around who knows.If you look at all of ottawa's teams most have heavy travel schecules.The key for the soccer team is to market the team like its a pro team and play out of a central stadium.The reason the wizards did not do well is because they played out of carp a good 45 minutes from the core of the city.People complain about going to the scotia bank place which is a good 10 minutes closer then oz stadium.Some may not like it but leagues need to grow if you just stay in one market your going to suffer as a league.

  4. Does anyone know the Ottawa club that will be joining the CSL in 2011? or does anyone know who or what is happening with the Ottawa CSL team?

    There has been no news so far.

  5. The new CSL teams appears to be linked to Soccer Prospect Academy. Latest news on their website is about being part of a CSL 2010/11 indoor league:

  6. @ Canadian Soccer Opinion

    Thanks for the info.