Major blow to CMISL: Winnipeg won’t be back in 2012

The Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League has been dealt a major blow.

Tony Pesce, president of the Winnipeg Alliance, has confirmed that the team won’t play this season — and won’t come back at all unless its travel costs can be eased.

“Unless other teams are brought in that are much closer in travel the Alliance will not come back,” wrote Pesce in an e-mail to The 11. “I am very grateful to all my friends and associates in business who sponsored close to $60,000 to the Alliance. Operational costs are too high.”

When the Saskatoon Accelerators ceased operations in 2010, the Alliance lost its short road trip. Last year, the CMISL consisted of just three teams, Edmonton Drillers, Calgary United FC and the Alliance — which meant long road trips for Winnipeg out to Alberta, where it would often have to play doubleheaders to mitigate the travel costs.

CMISL President Mel Kowalchuk had been talking about bringing in a Vancouver expansion franchise for 2012, but even if that happened, it would not ease the Alliance’s travel concerns.

This year, the Professional Arena Soccer League changed its unique arrangement with the CMISL. In previous seasons, PASL teams from the U.S. would come to Canada to play games that counted in the standings. But, with no CMISL schedule available, the PASL decided not to go that route in 2012 — even though it did say it was open to allowing its clubs to go to Canada to play what would be exhibition games for them. It would be up to the CMISL to decide if those games counted in its standings or not.

“Unfortunately because of Winnipeg’s location we are seriously at a disadvantage when it comes to supporting a team,” wrote Pesce. “Our travel costs are much too high when you also consider layovers for hotel accommodations, food and extra expenses, such as fuel costs and bus rentals.”

“Edmonton and Calgary are only a few hours apart. The Alliance was definitely pointed in the right direction. Our fan base was growing and there is no doubt in my mind that with the ever growing interest in the franchise from quality players the Alliance had reached heights of a serious contender. Last season we defeated some tough teams, and finished with the best record ever. It’s very sad the numbers don’t make sense, because certainly the Alliance could have grown to provide some quality entertainment and excitement. Aspiring young players could have something else to strive for.”

Calgary United is the reigning CMISL champ and is recognized by FIFRA, the world governing body of arena soccer (that is, indoor soccer with boards) as the national champs. That means Calgary has got an invite to the inaugural world indoor soccer club championships, which are set to be held in Mexico this February (CLICK HERE). The United brass have not responded to messages left by The 11 on its status for the new CMISL season, or if the club will accept the invitation and head to Mexico.

RELATED:
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CMISL in talks to bring indoor-soccer team to Vancouver (CLICK)

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.