Ok, so some of this is on me. Whenever I prepare an article on the newest CanPL press release, I open up a template on my computer and start writing. The fact that this template is titled, “Why I Hate This” is probably emblematic of some degree of bias on my part.
So today, instead of firing off a slapdash attack, I decided to make a cup of delicious coffee in my French press, get out some biscuits, add a little fresh pico de gallo to my eggs, and read and absorb the newest article about the league’s newest change by the talented Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic of OneSoccer. Find that here
I’m not sure it helped.
I feel like I am having some press release induced indigestion. So let me begin with what I think the goal of these changes are, and why they are good or not.
1 – International Player Rule Changes
So here is the first new rule:
“…teams must allocate at least 50% of their international spots to internationals who are U23 (for the 2023 season, that’s those born on January 1st, 2000 or later). Furthermore, if a club is to use all seven spots, the seventh spot must be reserved for a U21 player (born January 1st, 2002, or later).”
Why this is good: Apparently it gives more value to 24+ year old Canadians. Because now there will be less Foreign veterans (only 24 spots available across the league). Cool!
Also, in likely more important news, young internationals have way more value for re-sale. Just look at the briefcases stuffed with krone that Pacific FC got from Norway’s Sogndal Fotball!
Why it doesn’t add up: I get it, CPL is a development league. But it is so frustrating that the CPL is determined to see this development only through the lens of greed/instant gratification. It’s why, in my opinion, boards need to be made up of current players or at least work with Player’s Unions to make these decisions. Developing players means putting them in a position to play against better competition, and to learn from those who came up in superior technical professional systems.
Just imagine Forge potentially passing on players of the quality of Daniel Krutzen, CPL reigning Defender of the Year – Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson and others because they were already at their limit of three 24 year-olds.
And speaking of Forge, why not emulate the work of the most successful team in league history? Players like Omar Browne and Josh Navarro were instrumental in making things work for Forge in their Concacaf runs. Why limit that experience by birth date?
I was fortunate enough to interview Alex Achinioti-Jonsson. He pointed out that while Canadian players were as physically-gifted as players around the world, once he saw them play, it was easy to see how lost some of them could become in a system that is very technical and tactical.
And that goes for the professionalism required off the pitch too. Alex spoke of the diet journal he kept as a result of his classes at a sport specific high school in Sweden. Something that prepared him for the early jump to Helsingborgs IF. (That same team I’d seen play against my beloved Celtic in European play). That was along with classes on dealing with the press, tactics, history of the game and lots of practical practice.
Restricting options with arcane rules is less likely to develop Canadian talent then giving talented team builders like Bobby, Tommy, and now Patrice, the tools they need.
Hey, just an opinion from a guy who closely follows the league’s most successful side and the mould they’ve created.
The Road To Olympic Gold – FC13 Podcast
2 – Salary Cap increases.
Why this is good:
I mean isn’t it obvious. With more money available teams can attract better talent and/or retain their own talent more easily. Win-win all around!
And with increases to technical staff caps, teams can improve their coaching levels and training!
Why it doesn’t add up:
The PFACan has arrived. Marco Carducci is at the helm. An announcement was made about increases in salary (and changes to player accessibility) and their name wasn’t mentioned.
Whenever these type of moves are made without the input of the talent we come to see, we are left to wonder, “Are they cool with this?” I mean on the surface, what’s not to love about more money? But of course without knowing how much is coming in or available, it’s hard to judge how good the increase is.
And a Player’s Association is meant to represent all league players, including foreign senior citizens at the ripe old age of *checks notes* 24. Sigh.
Putting handcuffs on our talent developers seems counter-intuitive to me. It looks weird. Unless those transfer dollars are blurring your vision, I guess? I mean a more cynical sort might worry that well-travelled internationals might make more demands of their leadership. You know by wanting pay, benefits and opportunities similar to the more successful leagues they come from. But that’s probably not it, right? And anyone who’s ever has a job knows the greenhorns are more likely to accept dangerous work or a lack of benefits because they haven’t experienced any better.
In The End
All in all, these changes may be just much ado about nothing. The league is growing and they want to sort out best business practices. In my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to remind themselves that soccer has a culture that succeeds best where people feel connected to the game. Byzantine rules upon rules – that complicate systems – detract from that, in my opinion. Take a look at the MLS (the league that the CPL is not trying to emulate, apparently) and their complex system. If we have a chance to start fresh in Canada, I’d prefer we model ourselves after a variety of successful leagues with strong supporter/team connection.
It’s not that MLS fans don’t love their teams, but rather there are degrees of separation from the clubs and the fans that don’t necessarily exist in Central and South America, the UK, Europe and around the world. It may be worth stealing some best practices from them too. Unless of course the point is that complicated rules for the sake of rules bog us all down in semantics, and keep our eyes off the real issues.
Now time to take my tinfoil cap off and get back to my coffee.
Oh yeah, and my universally consistent point that I try to repeat whenever I can remains – The CPL is a top-tier professional league. We need to treat it with the reverence it deserves. We aren’t a development league. We are a factory of dreams.
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