March 8, 2011--CSL Association Inc Looks Forward to an Equitable Future (from CSL news release)

CSL Association Inc. looks forward to an equitable future

The Canadian Soccer League is entering its busiest year in decades as it approaches the league's annual meeting this coming Saturday.

The CSL, which has been in existence under four banners (NSL, CNSL, CPSL and now the CSL) over an 85-year period, is determined to be part of what prompts The Globe and Mail to head its recent stories with Soccer finally comes of age on Canada's sports landscape and Has Soccer’s time come in Canada?

Those soccer registrations in Canada that far exceed those of hockey, with more soccer registrations than football, baseball and basketball combined, is all old hat now. It’s now a belief that the success of Toronto FC is no flash in the pan, together with the knowledge that Vancouver Whitecaps owners are handing over $35 million to be a member of U.S.-based MLS.

Montreal Impact are not far behind while announcing enhancements to their home ground Saputo Stadium this week, all in readiness for MLS next year. Canada will host the Women’s World Cup in 2015. The Globe and Mail – Canada’s national newspaper - is impressed with the trend and Canadian sportswriters and sports broadcasters, usually preoccupied with North American mainstream sports, are turning more of their attention to the world game here in Canada.

The CSL has a part to play in all of this as it doggedly holds a position of being 100 per cent Canadian and that any United States content will be limited to players from New York State and Michigan who continue to venture north for the brand of soccer the Canadian pro league has to offer. The league soldiers on, with 14 teams in its top First Division for the upcoming season. A Reserve Division, that’s looking more like a Second Division because its being looked upon by more communities with strong senior amateur teams as an attractive first step to test the waters of professional soccer.

The CSL seeks expansion and a broader role in Canada’s professional soccer structure, earned over eight decades with a now firm belief that soccer really is a mainstream sport here and the league has a significant role to play.

The CSL won’t be reflecting much on the past at the upcoming meeting while it considers an increasing games schedule, the challenge of meeting national standards for professional soccer set down by the governing Canadian Soccer Association and the league’s approach to player development in a country where the skill level of players of all ages has not kept pace with the explosion of player registrations.

Deep down, the league wants to erase as quickly as possible any perception of a difference between its members that consists on one hand of league owners - member teams which collectively have invested millions of dollars since the 70s to establish the CSL as Canada’s only professional league - and recent teams in membership as playing members without equity ownership.

The league is introducing a change in its structure to achieve an environment which brings the business side of the CSL more in line with the game – the competition, where all teams are the same, all on a level playing field. The formation of an incorporated body, CSL Association Inc. developed during 2010, is complete now so that expressions such as ‘equity owners’, ‘non-equity owners’ or ‘playing members’ will soon be terminology from the past..

CSL League Administrator Pino Jazbec, a proponent of a change that brings equalization to the status of teams, sees the new company as a step in the right direction. “It’s a very painless way over a long period of time to compensate those clubs who poured money into the CSL over the years and who presently own the league. In time, it will be everyone’s league” he said, referring to the question of league ownership.

The annual meeting, which takes place in Toronto, will also confirm team names in a 2011 First Division that will kickoff early May. Teams will play a 26-game schedule through to the end of September, with the playoffs leading the CSL Championship game at the end of October.

2011 Canadian Soccer League

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