Business of Soccer Archive

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FCE raves about new longer and wider pitch at Clarke Stadium

ClarkeTurfFor FC Edmonton’s players, there was cause for celebration, Tuesday.

After two and a half seasons of playing on the rock-hard, football-line filled turf at Clarke Stadium, the Eddies were able to train on the new FieldTurf surface for the first time.

“It’s quite nice,” said assistant coach Jeff Paulus. “It plays as close as we can get to real grass. I think it’s now the best artificial surface in the country. I can’t think of anything better.”

The installation of the $1.2 million, FIFA-approved turf at Clarke Stadium finishes two years worth of lobbying to get a surface that was free of the football lines. The lines can be painted on for junior and high-school football games played at the facility.

The new turf also allowed FC Edmonton the chance to expand the field dimensions — both length and width. The old dimensions saw the goal lines placed on the goal lines of a Canadian football field, 110 yards apart. The new field is now 115 yards long by 75 yards wide.
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Montopoli: Canada has no plans to share World Cup 2026 bid with another nation

Peter Montopoli

Peter Montopoli

The General Secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association made it clear: When Canada bids for the World Cup, it won’t have a dance partner.

Peter Montopoli was in Edmonton Wednesday, speaking to the Chamber of Commerce about the coming U-20 Women’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup in 2015. But the Canadian Soccer Association’s bid for the 2026 World Cup, which is expected to go to FIFA some time in 2016, also came up.

And, when he was asked about the possibility of submitting a shared bid, Montopoli said the answer is no.

“It’s a single bid. It’s Canada, at this moment. It’s Canada, the Canadian Soccer Association that will be bidding, and we will continue along that line. There really have been no discussions on joint bids, either Mexico or the United States. It’s not a position we’re taking. It is a straight bid from the Canadian Soccer Association.”

Montopoli said that getting the 2026 World Cup would complete a journey that began in Edmonton in 2002, when 45,000 fans attended the final of the then-named U-19 Women’s World Championship, a predecessor of the U-20 Women’s World Cup. FIFA officials were startled by the Canadian suppot for women’s youth soccer, and that final put Canada on the road to hosting the U-20 World Cup in 2007, then the U-20 Women’s World Cup this year and the Women’s World Cup in 2015.
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14

Garber hints that Canadian-player rules in MLS may change: Why we need to look at minutes played, not roster spots

Don Garber

Don Garber

In a Facebook chat with fans held on Monday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber was greeted with the thorny question about Canadian players in the league.

Francis Ghanimé asked him: “Will Canadian players ever stop counting as internationals for American clubs?”

And this was the answer from the commish.

“We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

We have asked MLS for more clarification on the issue.

But, we do know the rules as they pertain to Canadians are on the radar. We also know the Canadian Soccer Association has lobbied MLS to changes the rules so Canadians are seen as domestic players, league wide. This would then put MLS on an equal footing with USL-PRO, which allows Canadians to be domestics on U.S. clubs.

Right now, the Canadian teams are required to each carry three Canadian players on their rosters. On the U.S. teams, Canadians are counted as international players and take up roster space that many American teams would prefer to give to players from, well, sexier parts of the soccer world. Meanwhile, on Canadian teams, Americans are seen as domestics.

The timing is interesting. We know CSA has been pushing for changes for a while. But, now, the CSA has gone public with its stated goal of having Canada’s own “Division 1A” (CLICK HERE or see issue 2 of Plastic Pitch), and reports continue that NASL, CFL owners and the CSA are discussing the formation of a Canadian division — something that NASL won’t deny, but says it simply can’t comment on… at this time.

So, pressure is no doubt building on MLS.
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FC Edmonton likely to boost number of Fort McMurray “home” games in 2015

fort-mcmurray-aerial-twoFC Edmonton announced earlier this year that it would be playing an NASL match in Fort McMurray in the 2015 season.

Now, the team says that it’s likely that two or three league games will be played in Canada’s oil-sands territory next season.

Because Edmonton hosts more games than any other city at next year’s Women’s World Cup, Clarke Stadium won’t be available for six weeks, through June and into the first week of July. Clarke Stadium is adjacent to Commonwealth Stadium, and wouldn’t be available when FIFA takes over the site.

The number of games FCE would play in Fort Mac would depend on when the NASL schedules its break between the spring and fall seasons. But, as of right now, the team has indicated that it looks like at least two dates in June could go to Fort Mac. That could go as high as three.
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8

NASL Commissioner talks about Canada’s long-term plans, expansion and league format

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson says his league is looking closely at one unnamed Canadian market as an expansion candidate, and is supportive of the long-term goals of the Canadian Soccer Association.

In a state-of-the-NASL conference call held Thursday morning, Peterson said he would be talking with CSA officials later in the day to discuss the organization’s long-term vision for the game in Canada. And he said the NASL would support the CSA’s vision, even if it includes the eventual launch of a Canadian Division “1A” league.

“We will have discussions with the CSA looking at the long-term future, what it looks like,” Peterson said. “We are open and supportive to what the long-term goals are going to be.”
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3

FCE’s home opener against the Fury moved to Commonwealth

PHOTO: CITY OF EDMONTON

PHOTO: CITY OF EDMONTON

FC Edmonton has announced that its NASL fall-season home opener against the Ottawa Fury will be moved to Commonwealth Stadium.

But just how many — or how few — sections of the 56,000-seat stadium will be filled could depend on television licensing issues.

The Eddies were forced to move the game because they could not be 100-per-cent guaranteed that the installation of a new turf surface at Clarke Stadium would be done in time for Sunday’s match. General Manager Rod Proudfoot said it was likely that the Clarke Stadium work would be done on time. But, “likely” isn’t the same as “guaranteed.” And even if there was a one per cent chance that the Clarke resurfacing wasn’t going to be on schedule, the game had to be moved.

Now, this is where it gets tricky. The World Cup final kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. local time. FC Edmonton hopes that it can open the Commonwealth gates at noon, and then show the game on the brand new Jumbotron that has been installed at the stadium. But it’s not that simple. The team confirmed it needs to ensure it has the rights to show the game at a ticketed event. And that means approaching either the CBC and/or FIFA.
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CBC’s great World Cup numbers and how they could boost Canada’s bid for 2026

2014FIFAWorldCuplogo2-FIFAMy inbox regularly pings when yet another press release about TV ratings comes out.

It sorta works like this. If ratings are good (such as this World Cup, or Olympic hockey numbers), the network that’s got the rights wants to tell as many people as it can about its success: How many people watch, what are the key demographics, when the broadcast reached its peak viewership.

Now, if the ratings are poor, we get nothing, nada. How did last year’s MLS Cup do, ratings-wise, on TSN? We didn’t get a press release on that.

Of course, the average journalist gets so many of these big-TV-numbers releases, that they simply become background noise.

But the CBC’s numbers for this World Cup deserve a mention. Not because anyone needs to be pumping up the CBC’s tires. The network has already announced that, in its post-NHL life, it is getting out of the sports business. Why do we need to celebrate the numbers? Because the outstanding TV viewership tallies can be used by the Canadian Soccer Association for a greater purpose.
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As MLS announces expansion franchises, the temptation to add more playoff teams needs to be curbed

Don Garber

Don Garber

I’ve always been a big believer of a playoff system that might exclude some good teams rather than one that includes mediocre teams.

I preferred it when Major League Baseball went straight to National League and American League Championship Series. Two division winners in each league was enough. Its playoffs were once about best vs. best, and were far more compelling in the ‘70s and ‘80s than they are now.

If the NFL could find a way to lower the number of playoff teams, that would be great. Personally, I’d love to get rid of the divisions, because the law of averages suggests that one of the eight groupings of four teams will be so collectively awful that a 9-7 or an 8-8 team will get into the post season. If it was up to me, top four teams in the AFC and top four teams in the NFC make the playoffs. That’s it.

The NHL continues to worry me, with rumours of adding more playoff teams in seasons to come.

I’m not anti-playoffs like some Euro soccer snobs. I grew up in North America. I’m fine with a league champ being determined after a post-season process. I just don’t think playoffs that are super inclusive are nearly as interesting as ones that are exclusive in nature.

Before the start of the NASL season, commissioner Bill Peterson declared that the league would not increase the number of teams that go to the post-season, even when (and if) the circuit gets to its goal of 18 franchises. The NASL will have four teams go to its “Championship” rounds this season, out of a 10-team league. Peterson vowed that the format would not change.

To me, it’s a great compromise. For the traditional soccer supporters, who believe nothing should be more important than league play, a four-team set-up makes for a very exclusive playoff process. The difficulty of getting into the Championship means that the regular-season games will matter, that there won’t be as many occasions where a team can take a week off. But there still we be a few playoff games satisfy the North American sports fan.
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Citytv and FC Edmonton announce broadcast deal: Geoblocking plans have been aborted

citytvThere’s been a change of course for FC Edmonton’s broadcast plans.

After some discussions between the club and the league, the broadcasts of FCE home games in the 2014 season won’t be geoblocked on the new NASLLive subscription service. To make it work, Citytv/Rogers will broadcast the games on Sunday afternoons through the season, but won’t be streaming the matches.

Originally, the plan was to have the Canadian broadcaster have the rights to stream the matches, which would have forced NASLlive to geoblock FCE’s home broadcasts north of the border. But, after some discussions, those plans have been changed.

Citytv will broadcast home games on Sundays throughout the season. The three FCE Saturday home matches will be shown on tape delay. Of course, those who subscribe to the NASLlive.com service will be able to watch the Saturday games live.
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8

NASL commissioner to meet with CSA execs: To discuss how NASL “can be a better partner” to Canada

Bill Peterson PHOTO: NASL

Bill Peterson PHOTO: NASL

NASL commissioner Bill Peterson will be in the nation’s capital on April 19, when the Ottawa Fury plays its first regular-season match on the Carleton University turf against Minnesota United.

As part of the trip to Ottawa, Peterson will meet with the Canadian Soccer Association officials. His stated goal? To find ways that NASL “can be a better partner” to the CSA. He said that, now that he’s settled in as the league commissioner, he wants to create a closer working relationship with the CSA.

Peterson said the league “will explore options on how we can better align ourselves with the CSA’s professional goals.”

What that means is unclear. The Canadian Soccer Association has a mandate to create a series of regional Division-3 leagues, but the NASL’s role as a recognized Division-2 league in Canada is untouched. But, as the NASL fights for relevance, the optics of going to the CSA with a “how can we help you?” stance definitely scores PR points for Peterson and his crew. Remember that the Canadian Soccer Association’s continuing plea to have Canadians recognized as domestics in Division-1 MLS has consistently fallen on deaf ears. In 2009, Canadians saw an average of 1404.1 minutes per team in MLS; in 2013, that number had plummeted to 1025.2 minutes allocated per team to Canadians, despite the fact that the number of Canadian franchises had gone from one to three in that time.
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