The Canadian Premier League 2021 season format will likely be a single-table format followed by a three-team playoff according to league commissioner David Clanachan.
This format was originally set to be used for the first time in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the season. The eight-team league would later announce and implement the Island Games tournament in P.E.I.
“We’re going to go into 2021, if we get a full season in, we’re going to do it exactly as we had planned for 2020,” said Clanachan during an online media event Friday. “We spent a lot to time speaking to our supporters and our fans. And they really took us to a single-table and to a playoff format.”
CPL commissioner open to separate preseason tournament
But after seeing the success of the CPL Island Games, Clanachan admits he’s open to a preseason tournament, similar in style to the Island Games hosted in a single venue, to help bridge the long gap between CPL seasons in the future.
“One of the things I worry about is, how do you deal with this six months in between us starting to play again,” said Clanachan.
Clanachan did temper expectations however, suggesting it’s only an idea for now and there’s nothing planned yet.
“We’d have to start to think about it – to pull together a project plan. But it’s a good idea. You never know.”
CPL planning for fans in stands in 2021
Clanachan said the league is working towards an April kick off in 2021 and is planning for supporters to be back in the stadiums, so long as COVID-19 and/or related protocols are no longer major issues.
“I’m approaching next year that hopefully we’ll have fans in the stands. And the our supporters can see our teams play live and that we’ll be past this pandemic,” said Clanachan. “That will be plan A, but we’ll obviously work towards plans B and C.”
Commish praises “fantastic” Island Games
The commish has been pleased with how the makeshift CPL Island Games tournament has panned out, specifically highlighting the competition’s parity. Last season saw two clubs, Cavalry FC and Forge FC, pull away from the rest of the pack early. As a result, the regular season lost steam heading towards its climax.
But the CPL Island Games saw an improvement in competition, with seven of the eight teams still fighting for qualification to the second round on the final match day of the first round.
“The games have been fantastic in P.E.I.,” said Clanachan. “I think they’ve been well-played. I’ve been very pleased with the level of, I’ll call it parity – the level of competition.”
Forge FC and HFX Wanderers face each other in the CPL Island Games final Saturday. The match will be broadcast live at onesoccer.ca and on CBC television and streaming services.