May 4, 2010 CSL Press Conference (by Rocket Robin)

Highlights of the Canadian Soccer League pre-season press conference held on Tuesday May 4th, 2010 at the Rogers Room at BMO Field in Toronto at 12:00pm. Attendance was about 100.

The MC was Stan Adamson, Executive Director of the CSL. The meeting was called to order at 12:15pm.

Adamson started by reminding us that it is a World Cup year, that soccer registration is up in Canada, and Toronto mayor David Miller said recently "Soccer is the sport of choice". He said a lot has changed since the championship game of October 24th, 2009 that was held right here (Trois-Rivieres Attak beating Serbian White Eagles).

Adamson then introduced the head table or Eric Barber (from Days Inn hotels), Domenic Di Gironimo the new commissioner of the league, John Knox the Director at large from the Canadian Soccer Association, Guy Bradbury the CEO of the Ontario Soccer League, Bobby Iarusci a 'friend' of the league, and Pino Jazbec who has moved from the club level (Toronto Croatia) to the league office.

Adamson then went through the press conference kit outlining some changes to the league this year.
There will be 13 teams this year in the first division. Brampton Lions, Brantford Galaxy, FC Hamilton Croatia, London City, Milltown FC, Montreal Impact Academy, North York Astros, Portugal FC, Serbian White Eagles, St Catharines Wolves, TFC Academy, Toronto Croatia, and York Regions Shooters. The league's Reserve Division will be made up of 10 teams. London City, Montreal Impact Academy, and Toronto Croatia will be the only teams to not be part of the Reserve League.
He said the league will be upgrading their web site.
There was a story called "Getting Connected" regarding youth soccer about the story of young talent now staying in Canada rather than having to leave the country. It is great to see the two levels of professional and youth soccer coming together. Toronto FC (and Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps) do provide professional development but on the broad Canadian front, Canada has not had a full structure. The league has appointed Domenic Di Gironimo as the new commissioner of the league who will work closely with the governance (governing bodies) of Canadian soccer.
Marketing is important with new sponsorships being brought in to the league. He said Di Gironimo brings much experience from the business world.

Domenic Di Gironimo said a few words about bringing in Givova sports as the ball and uniform supplier for the league this year. He had a letter from the president of the company Giovanni Acanfora from Italy who apologized for not being able to attend today's meeting. Di Gironimo said it was important to get a company that believes in our vision. The company has only been two years trying to expand to worldwide growth.

Adamson was back at the podium and next outlined the relationship this year with Rogers (Cable systems) . They are scheduled to show 45 regular season games plus the playoffs and the championship game. Most games will be broadcast live and the coverage will provide wonderful exposure for the league.

Willy Jong from Rogers was invited up to say more. He said this year there will be an expansion of games that are covered. For games in the Toronto area, every game will be produced in High Definition. The games will be broadcast beyond the local area. All the live games that are broadcast to just the local area will be available on the Rogers Super-Sports-Pack. Any subscriber can watch them which means as far away as New Brunswick and the other areas of Southern Ontario that are not in the local area. (eg. A Friday game at London City involving let's say North York Astros will be available for Toronto area residents).

Adamson was back to outline the sponsorship agreement with the Days Inn hotel chain. The hotel will provide teams overnight accommodation especially for road games to Montreal and for the Montreal team coming to Southern Ontario.

Eric Barber from the Days Inn said the company was looking to get into the sports market which is the one area that has shown growth for the hospitality industry. They will provide special rates for travelling fans.

John Knox of the CSA spoke next and reminded us the work previous CSL commissioner Cary Kaplan provided did to get the league conditional membership to the CSA. They did not meet the September deadline but an extension was given and they met the requirements by December 2009. The CSL has been accepted into the CSA family. We need strong professional soccer in Canada. We need the CSL to develop young players to feed the pro teams and the National teams. He congratulated the CSL and their new commissioner. He will work to get the CSL permanent membership.

Guy Bradbury from the OSA said this was an important time for soccer renewal. There has been a strong dialogue between the OSA, the Quebec Soccer Association, and the CSA. He thanked the owners of the CSL for their support. He wants to make soccer Ontario's sport of choice. It is now Randy Ragan's (former national team player) fourth day on the job.

Adamson next outlined details of the 2010 schedule which is 156 games between the 13 teams. He thanked Pino Jazbec for the tough work negotiating with cities and owners to make a fair schedule. There are four new teams this year:
1. Montreal Impact Academy are the reserve team for the Montreal Impact. They are taking the place of the Trois-Rivieres Attak who won the championship last year but are taking one year off and will be back in 2011.
2. Brantford Galaxy are from a great sports city that brought the country hockey great Wayne Gretzky.
3. Milltown FC from Milton.
4. FC Hamilton Croatia who have a long history at the senior level and have large attendances in Hamilton over the years.

Bob Iarusci spoke next and he outlined his early interest in soccer and the earlier history of teams in our area. We are fragmented and must align to senior teams or we're just a babysitting service. We should have 24 teams in two divisions across the province. Our towns must support their local teams. We should have our own league in our country and someday we can challenge the MSL pro teams for entrance to Concacaf tournaments. Even Eusabio will be coming to Toronto this year to support the 1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia NASL championship team.

Adamson said there are two guys putting together the new website for the league which will launch in the next week. He also introduced Tony Comacho the chief of referees.

Domenic Di Gironimo then came back to thank us for our attendance. He outlined his involvement/background as a silent partner in the Attak and predecessor Dynamite teams. He moved up the ranks to now be the league commissioner which he says is an honour. He was in the position of being a good player when he was 16/17 but nowhere to go to develop further in Canada without leaving the country. He thanked the owners for their commitment to change and to be a partner with governance. The future belongs to the strong development of young elite players. The CSL will be the missing link, the melting pot, the push to excel, and will be committed to their cities and the local soccer youth clubs in these towns. The league was restructured to be a non-profit organization. It now has gained sanctioning from the CSA. Bob Iarusci is on the advisory committee with the media. The league will overcome its challenges with strong ties and a strong vision. There will be a former link between youth and pros. The CSL will set higher standards including getting the cities to provide quality facilities to play in like these towns do for hockey. He thanked Rogers for their broadcast commitments. The new website will have e-mail newsletters, podcasts, new connections with such publications as Inside Soccer magazine among other things. He also thanked the Days Inn. He said the future holds new teams to be announced soon enough. Adamson thanked everyone again and the meeting was adjourned at 1:12pm and a buffet was provided.

Time to mingle:

Ryan Gauss of London City is back for another year of owner/management and said their team is ready to sign four players from FC London (PDL league) who have finished their NCAA commitments and want to play in a league that doesn't end in July.

Jason Bent of TFC Academy said the club still has self imposed age restrictions on their reserve and senior teams so this year such 20 year olds like James Stamatopoulos and Daniel Di Biagio will not be back and could end up playing on other CSL clubs.

Tony DeThomasis answered my question about why his team has changed its name from Italia Shooters back to York Region Shooters. He said that's so they can show that have the York County territory. He can remember now Toronto FC player Adrian Cann playing for the team in 2002 and can remember hearing his teammates calling him 'Peaches' on the field when they wanted him to pass to them. He, like me, didn't know why he had that nickname. Over the years I've narrowed it down between the fuzzy afro hair he had back then or that Cann and Peaches went together like "Can of Peaches".

The season starts this Saturday with one game on the first weekend. TFC Academy against Portugal FC.

Rocket Robin

John Knox, Domenic Di Gironimo, Eric Barber, and Stan Adamson at the podium.

Pino Jazbec, Bobby Iarusci, and Guy Bradbury

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