Calgary, Winnipeg and Hamilton “bubbling to the top” of NASL expansion talk

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson visited FC Edmonton’s training camp Wednesday, to have a closed-door meeting with players and coaches. The stop was part of a tour he is doing of all the NASL cities, as he introduces himself to players.

The purpose of the meeting was to give new and returning players a sense of where the league is, and how they are partners in helping build the NASL throughout the continent. He talked about how they are responsible to their clubs and cities.

“I said it was important for them to perform at a high level, and to represent their cities and clubs well through the entire season. What we will see on the field is our most competitive league ever. Our split season (the winner of the spring session will host the winner of the fall season for the Soccer Bowl) leaves teams very little margin for error. They need to be competitive out of the gate and need to keep improving as the season goes on.”

Peterson was available to answer questions on a variety of topics of importance to Canadian soccer fans.

On the naming of Ottawa Fury FC, who will join the league in 2014:
“I spent a couple of days there and I was amazed by the number of people in the street stopping (Fury team president) John Pugh in the street and congratulating him. It’s going to be a great team for this league. It’s a great ownership group and the most important thing is that the team began as a club before growing up into something bigger. That’s not always the case in North America, where a team begins as a large franchise and doesn’t have the foundation of being a club.”

On his reaction to the Easton Report, which recommended Canada look at a series of semipro domestic Div. 3 leagues, but to leave Div. 2 as is:
“For us, it gives us some clarity. We know where we stand. We want to be big supporters of soccer in Canada, and we are looking at even more cities to add in expansion in the future. Calgary, Winnipeg and Hamilton, those are the names that are always bubbling to the top.”

On the status of the Puerto Rico Islanders, a club that’s taking the 2013 season off to reorganize its operation:
“I have no updates. I haven’t heard anything from them in the last couple of weeks.”

On addressing the threat of match-fixing:
“It really is a global soccer issue, and we want to have a plan in place to address it before the season. We have talked with the Canadian Soccer Association (Ottawa Fury president) and John Pugh about the issues. We need to have provisions in place and ways to address the threats in an appropriate manner. The tricky thing is that match-fixers aren’t obvious, and we have to learn about how they approach players, how they put pressure on players. Once we have a better understanding of that we want to have the system in place where a player, if approached, can report it right away.”

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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.