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CPL Commissioner Clanachan steps down after four years – How do you think he did?

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David Clanachan stepped down as Canadian Premier League Commissioner, the professional soccer league announced Monday.

Clanachan has been awarded rights for a CPL expansion team in Windsor, with a plans to launch in 2024.

“After an exhilarating and rewarding four years as Canadian Premier League Commissioner, now is the right time for new leadership,” said Clanachan via a league statement Monday. “We have built something truly special that has captured the imagination of soccer fans across the country.”

In four years as CPL commissioner, Clanachan oversaw the launch of the Canada’s tier-1 professional soccer league, secured major sponsorship deals and expanded the league to eight teams, with the promise of three more to come in the next three years.

But there have been challenges during Clanachan’s tenure.

He led the league during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a reduced season and drops in attendance.

And Clanachan has been reluctant to recognize the Professional Footballers Association Canada, the burgeoning Canadian soccer players union. Many CPL fans have criticized Clanachan’s stance on the players union, citing low wages and a lack of freedom as reasons players need unionized representation. Clanachan recently said the league will start talking with union. But there’s been no update since early December.

There has been no announcement of who may replace Clanachan as commissioner.

What best matches your opinion of David Clanachan's four-year tenure as CPL Commissioner?

  • Successful - Launching the league and keeping it operating during the pandemic outweighs any negatives. (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Adequate - He did the job but it's probably the right time to move on. (50%, 1 Votes)
  • Unsuccessful - Not recognizing the players union negates any positives. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Full CPL statement:

Commissioner David Clanachan Awarded Exclusive CPL Rights to Windsor/Essex County and to Step Down as First CPL Commissioner
Clanachan hopes to bring first professional sports team to his hometown of Windsor

Toronto, ON (January 10, 2022) – The Canadian Premier League (CPL) announced today that Commissioner David Clanachan has been awarded the exclusive rights for a CPL expansion club in Windsor/Essex County. The launch of an expansion club is contingent upon delivering a soccer-specific stadium and other expansion criteria to League standards. Subsequently, Clanachan will step down as the first Canadian Premier League Commissioner to focus on bringing professional sports and the first ever professional soccer club to his hometown.

“Everybody involved with the CPL and Canadian Soccer Business would like to thank David for his contributions to this incredible project,” said Scott Mitchell, CPL and CSB Co-founder. “Very few thought we could pull this off when we started talking about this with David five years ago, and yet here we sit with a league that is clearly been a great success despite the obstacles and that is destined to establish itself as one of the more important leagues in the world. We want to also express our appreciation to David for his commitment in helping us with a seamless transition to our next leader.”

Clanachan was appointed the first Commissioner of the CPL in 2018 and oversaw the successful launch of the League and expansion to eight Canadian markets. The CPL concluded its third season in December with Pacific FC winning its first CPL Final. The League has also distinguished itself on the international stage with impressive performances in Concacaf earning a Champions League spot (Forge FC) in 2022.

“Windsor’s passionate sports community has always inspired me and fueled my love of soccer. It has been a dream of mine to bring professional soccer to the amazing people of Windsor /Essex County and I am looking forward to this next chapter and beginning the work necessary to bring a club to my hometown,” said Commissioner Clanachan. “After an exhilarating and rewarding four years as Canadian Premier League Commissioner, now is the right time for new leadership. We have built something truly special that has captured the imagination of soccer fans across the country. The CPL is now firmly established as a key pillar in Canada’s sports landscape and will be at the centre of soccer’s remarkable growth in the coming years. Having a successful club in Windsor will only make us stronger.”

“We want to thank Commissioner Clanachan for his dedication to this growing league, his leadership and vision that were instrumental in seeing our Atlético de Madrid group join as owners of the Atlético Ottawa franchise,” said Fernando López, Chief Executive Officer, Atlético Ottawa. “We look forward to building on the solid foundation he has established and continue developing professional soccer in Canada.”

Clanchan’s work as Commissioner has produced some unprecedented achievements for the League and soccer in Canada. His accomplishments include:

  • Successfully launching Canada’s sanctioned Tier One men’s professional soccer league, the Canadian Premier League from the ground up. Bringing it to life in front of 20,000 fans at the inaugural match in Hamilton on April 27, 2019.
  • Collaborating on the design of the inaugural Macron kits in 2019 and passionately pursuing that the CPL Awards be unique pieces of Inuit Art designed by artists in the community of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut.
  • Setting the foundation for expansion through adding Atlético Ottawa as the eighth franchise in 2020 owned by the world football powerhouse Atlético de Madrid.
  • Further delivering on expansion to 10 markets with an agreement for a club to begin play in Vancouver in 2023 and awarding a conditional franchise to Saskatoon.
  • Helping to establish an innovative business model that ensures CPL owners and clubs benefit from both their local success but also as shareholders in CSB (Canadian Soccer Business).
  • Beginning to strengthen and build a pathway for young Canadian players to the professional level and continue to expand the League through the addition of League1 Ontario, implementation of the CPL U-21 minutes and player requirement rules and the CPL- U SPORTS Draft.
  • Securing national league sponsorship with top brands including Volkswagen, WestJet, Allstate, and Macron.
  • Supporting CSB to negotiate a landmark media rights deal to ensure short- and long-term distribution of CPL matches across all available platforms with Mediapro (OneSoccer).
  • Successfully orchestrating the 2020 Island Games to ensure a safe and meaningful season for the league while driving tourism and new revenue for Prince Edward Island.Delivering on a second pandemic season in 2021 playing all 115 matches beginning with The Kickoff bubble in Winnipeg.

Dr. Nick Bontis, President, Canada Soccer added “David leaves a tremendous legacy for professional soccer in Canada. I still remember our initial meetings when we drew up many of the current league policies on the back of a napkin several years ago. The league is now ready for a new trajectory of growth in large part due to his commitment. Congratulations and all the best in the future.”

“David has been an incredible leader, builder and a passionate champion for Canada’s soccer community. He has inspired our league through our exciting startup phase and navigated us through the difficult days of the pandemic,” said Bob Young, Co-founder CPL and Forge FC. “His work has set the foundation for an exciting new era for professional club soccer in Canada and leaves the CPL as one of the fastest-growing sports leagues in the world. We are thrilled that David will remain a part of our soccer community and play the leading role in trying to bring the CPL to Windsor.”

An announcement about next steps will be made shortly.

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About Author

Editor of Total Soccer News | Photographer and Writer | Stuart Gradon is soccer journalist and multimedia professional, having worked at 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. He covers Cavalry FC and Canadian Premier League. Stuart is available for media appearances, including podcasts, television, and radio. Email stuartgradon@totalsoccernews.com to inquire.

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