Opinion: CPL Announces Pay Hikes, Hooray! But Let Me Be That Guy

Opinion: CPL Announces Pay Hikes, Hooray! But Let Me Be That Guy

I don’t know, dear readers, if you are a “good news first”, or a “get the bad news out of the way” kind of crowd. So, I’ll just guess that you have enough negativity in your lives and jump to the good stuff.

The CPL has announced some impressive increases in player compensation. According to the CPL media release, the league office recommended the changes and they were unanimously approved by the Board of Governors. So, what are the changes? Let’s dive in:

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  • Minimum Salary increased by 36% to $30,000
  • Separated the Technical Staff cap from the Player Cap
  • Increase in Player Maximum cap of $175,000 to $1.125 million which is up 15% from 2022
  • Under 21 Cap relief – first $200,000 spent is at 50% cap hit

Sweet. So, this is great for the players, and no one is going to take a cynical perspective here, right? Well, welcome my darker half, couch potato and amateur rapper – Cynikal K, to join me as we talk about the changes in an interview format that happened completely within my own head.


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Me: So, lots to love here. The cap rising is a huge plus. To be expected, but as the game grows, so must the player compensation if we are going to attract the best players possible at this level. And despite attendance being down, and money still being an issue, the league has put the players first. Can’t beat this news.

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CK: Sure. Money is a big problem for the CPL/CSB. Didn’t they just announce CIBC as the major sponsor for the league, on the tails of that ol’ microbrew, what’s it called again, oh yeah, Carlsberg?! They ain’t hurting, believe me.

Me: Well, that’s not fair. We haven’t seen the books. There is no way to know how much the owners have had to absorb in losses. I mean the pandemic alone…

CK: Yeah, that’s true. If only there was a way to get that transparency, I don’t know, like bargaining a Collective Agreement with the players association.

Canadian Premier League – Cavalry FC v Forge FC – Calgary, Alberta, Canad Oct, 15, 2022 Cavalry defender Daan Klomp (far right) heads the ball past Forge goalkeeper Triston Henry in the first half.CFC Media Mike Sturk

Me: Fair point, but these things take time, the league is only going into its fifth year.

CK: Yeah, good point. USL League 1 (USA Div 3) started the same year. Did I mention they just signed their first Collective Agreement? No? Well, they did. And it is based largely on the USL Championship’s Collective Agreement (USA Division 2), signed on September 29th, 2021. But I’m sure that had no impact on CPL/CSB sweetening the pot. BTW, for 2023 the maximum benefit spend for USL C is $1,970,000 USD/team. Just sayin’.

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Me: Hmm, ok, but still, it is a positive to be growing, and the minimum salary was a big issue in the early days of the CPL as guys were leaving to become arborists. So, increasing it by 36% is massive for the players. You can’t argue that!

CK: No, I can’t, 36% is huge. But $30,000 isn’t. How small were those minimum payouts previously? Must be part of the CSB’s commitment to gender pay equity. So they decided not to go over, or even to match the NWSL minimum pay structure. Good for them.

Me: Be nice. This is a start-up league. They are trying. Growth must be slow and sustainable; we have seen prior leagues fail here. Got to give them time to get it right.

CK: Yeah, I guess. I’ll calm down.

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Me: Good. Because there is a new Commissioner on the scene, and these changes seem to be all under his watch. Surely there is a lot of hope right now?


Me: This is you being nice? 

CK: Yes.

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Me: Ok, finally, the cap relief for under 21’s is an unassailable move. This will ensure that teams keep giving young men chances in a professional environment.

CK: Sure, now Ottawa can sign twice as many U 21s as before and play them all on the last day of the year to make the cut!

Zachary Roy, Atletico Ottawa – James MacDonald / Pacific FC / CPL

Me: Ok, that is cynical, even for you. Well, I choose to stay positive. Way to go CPL, keep growing! 

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CK: And try to keep pace with the CSB. That’s where the money’s at! Wait, we didn’t chat about the Women’s League on the horizon, Rob Friend’s attempt to take over as league benefactor from Bob Young, or CIBC’s plans to get the most out of their marketing buck while the games are only on little-known soccer-specific streaming sites!

Me: Goodbye, Cynical K. Save something for another day.

CK: Wait, how about my take on the Technical Staff compensation had to be separated for Rob Friend to be able to afford his new coach, who would be unwilling to take a hometown discount to coach?

Me: SSShhhhh! Until next time my small niche of Canadian Premier League sarcasm fans, this is Kevin Anderson saying, Good Night!

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Writer’s note: Ok, So I may have gone a bit overboard, but as I head into the World Cup, I am trying to divest myself of all the cynicism I can so I can enjoy the game as apolitically as possible (impossible for me, but a couple of weeks of mostly escapism would be nice). Still love the CPL. Just feel that I love it enough to let it know when it has spinach in its teeth.


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2 thoughts on “Opinion: CPL Announces Pay Hikes, Hooray! But Let Me Be That Guy

  1. Love and support your initiatives with these articles, and I do support a future CBA for CPL, as well as a Women’s league. I love how you compare us to the 30+ year old USL/USL Championship, League One, League Two structure brought about in 2018, from it’s predecessor USL First and Second Division with PDL, and it’s predecessor USL PRO, Second Division, PDL, and it’s predecessor A-League (may have had first and seconds, don’t recall, as that was some 30+ years ago… So really it took them about 30 years to come up with these CBAs, or were there others along the way, or did they just keep changing their structure to avoid them. And, of course, USL is not a clear success, with it’s structure and most stadiums drawing great averages beyond 5000 (unless your looking at the MLS 2 teams). So, where’s the comparison, they have been making money and growing their coffers for 10s of years, we’re here 5 and everyone expects miracles? Well how did that play out for the 6 or 7 years of Canadian Soccer League? Oh that’s right they lost money too and all but two or three teams folded up shop; those left went to versions of, that’s right “USL”. The more we push beyond our club’s and ownerships means or wish to spend (means), the more we may just push them away. So, let’s be reasonable, and accept that we’re on the right track and once our coffers are truly overflowing, we will see what we want to see. IMHO.

  2. Hey thanks for the engagement. You raise some interesting points. If I was the type to respond i might say:
    -The 30+ year old USL/PDL was a 3rd Div and comparing it to a Div 1 “Premier League” is a sore point already (Not a great start)
    -Miracles not necessary, but I am a “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” guy, why re-invent the wheel? Every major pro sports league in North America has a Collective Agreement
    -The CSL seems to make my point. A league without a CA that folded, in part, due to player bribes/gambling issues, which are combatted by having a CA the lays out player compensation, benefits and in concert with the league creates education programs to combat those issues
    -The coffers mention is an interesting acknowledgement too. The USL or even NASL never had access to the nation’s National Team sponsorship largesse, as CSB does, as a revenue stream. The only comparable is MLS and SUM. It is unlikely the owners are “Pushed away” from a golden goose that world renowned players and tournaments (that don’t work for them) are building and they directly benefit from.
    -And being slower to unionize, or even a similar speed, to USA is an odd move, since the US is very much an anti-Labour nation compared to us. We have more than double the union density of the States. So, growing the PA here faster seems apropos
    -And having, arguably the two flagship teams Forge and Atletico Ottawa leading the way seems made for union recognition. Both of those teams make the vast majority of their wealth from their primary teams – the Ti-Cats and Atletico Madrid. Both those teams have players that are members of PAs. This is already part of their day-to-day.
    _Collective Agreements, while not always easy to agree on, create labour peace. Knowing what the future looks like for the next 5 years encourages investment (a guarantee of compensation amounts and also no work stoppages). Without one, players can walk out at any time costing both sides (See CanMNT-Panama game)

    In the end I think I used the NWSL and USL C as examples because, in their new and old forms they are well below the status of a Division 1 league yet offer better player compensation and benefits. I appreciate the need to point out their history though. Thanks! And please keep reading and commenting, truly appreciated.

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