Home Business of Soccer The Easton Report: What it means for Div. 3 in Canada

The Easton Report: What it means for Div. 3 in Canada

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The long-awaited Easton Report is out — and, in it, former national-team player James Easton recommends the best course of action is a regionally-based series of Div. 3 leagues, governed by a single umbrella organization.

Just like the CHL oversees the QMJHL, OHL and WHL and then administers the Memorial Cup tournament that ends the junior-hockey season, the report recommends creating a favourable environment for investors to build regional leagues, which would be administered by a body that could also crown a national champion.

The regional Div. 3 teams would promote but not be limited tomU-23 talent, have strict controls on imports and would promote locally bred players, either from CIS or regional youth clubs.

Read the report here:

As well, with the release of the report, the Canadian Soccer Association clarified its position on the Canadian Soccer League. The CSA made this statement, following the CSL’s weekend claim that it still had a CSA sanction. The CSL has been wrestling with confirmation that a 2009 match between the Trois-Rivieres Attak and Toronto Croatia was fixed, and the league itself admitted that, annually, $185 million is gambled on its matches.

Is there a home for the CSL, a regional Ontario league that carries the “Canadian” name, in a new Div. 3 world? Here is what the CSA had to say:?

“The Canadian Soccer Association Board of Directors has received and endorsed the recommendation provided by the Division II viability study conducted by James Easton and the Rethink Management Group. The model of a regional semi-professional development-focused league presented in the study was deemed the most realistic starting point in trying to restructure the Canadian Men’s competitive environment and better align with our efforts in player development.

“The Canadian Soccer Association informed the Canadian Soccer League of its vision and decision to move towards a regionally driven structure commencing the 2013 season.

“The Canadian Soccer Association will support the provincial sanctioning body, the Ontario Soccer Association, in its discussions with the Canadian Soccer League on this new framework.”

What stood out to me in the report:

That the exisiting four Div. 1 and 2 pro teams in Canada, the three MLS teams and FC Edmonton of the NASL, should be encouraged to have their reserve/developmental squads play in a new Canadian Div. 3 set-up. This offers the biggest thorn for MLS, which just struck a deal with USL Pro to develop affiliated reserve clubs.

USL Pro is sanctioned as Div. 3 in the U.S., while NASL is Div. 2. And, the CSA has already stated that it will not sanction teams playing in USL-Pro as Div. 3 in Canada, as it was going to protect the regional-league vision presented in the Easton Report. So, now MLS and USL are left with major, major questions — how to implement the plans on TFC, the Montreal Impact and the Whitecaps, when the national sanctioning body is urging those clubs to develop players within a Canadian Div. 3 system.

This could be the first major crack we see in the relationship between MLS and its Canadian clubs. Yes, CSA President Victor Montagliani has said that the three Canadian MLS teams can be involved with USL-Pro, but those games would not be recognized by the CSA. Basically, they would be seen the same as an intrasquad game, OK for a team to develop its own players, but of no import outside of the club in question.

Make no mistake, the CSA’s decision to protect a national Div. 3 vision, while at the same time endorsing a report which backs away from a national Div. 2 strategy, represents a major, major win for NASL over USL. FC Edmonton and Ottawa will be recognized as Div. 2 in NASL, while USL can’t cross the border — at least not in a way that would be recognized as, well, Canadian.

And, this begs a bigger question of MLS — knowing that this report was going to be released soon, why push a vision that’s incompatible with that of the Easton Report. Why show such disrespect to the Canadian Soccer Association?

Also in the report was an urging to relax financial requirements for a team’s first three years of entry into a semipro league. Easton and his researchers know that the best way to create a new Division 3 is to use existing amateur clubs that could easily convert to the semipro model. In Edmonton, one would only have to think of how Edmonton Scottish could become a Div. 3 club, as it’s regarded as one of the most powerful men’s programs in the country and already has former NASL players on its roster. Better to use established teams than pure expansion sides from scratch.

Finally, was the carrot of offering more Voyageurs’ Cup places, so Div. 3 teams could gain entry. This would offer the chance for teams to offset some of the financial risk of jumping into the uncertain world of Div. 3 — a chance for a lucrative date against the likes of a Whitecaps or Impact.

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5 Comments

  1. Me

    November 2, 2015 at 1:42 am

    Steven,

    I’m am American transplant and I’ve spent plenty of time in American soccer circles and for all the bureaucracy there, I don’t believe I’ve witnessed a national federation/association so fractured and so seemingly toothless in enacting national implementations. A quick roadblock I’ve already hit is establishing a new club, affiliated with my region (and by obvious extension the provincial federation) in a city of over 100,000. I’ve been told I can’t because more than one affiliated club is not allowed per area. So by sheer bad luck and the fact that a club has already “earned” the rights to my area I am stuck with a “house” league team or league. Which for my certifications, will not do. I can’t petition to play tournaments overseas or across the border because I would not be affiliated with a FIFA member. The staggering part is that on the regional and provincial levels, there is no impetus for change. Where I’m from, affiliating clubs was part and parcel of the state associations responsibility. Suffice it to say that simply from an economic viewpoint it makes no sense to not affiliate as many as possible to do things like: a) expand your economic base, b) offer licensing classes in coaching/officiating (which is very difficult to find) or c) improve the competitive level in general. I will do what I can to change but again even reaching out to some organizations like “futsal Canada” has yielded no results for me. I feel like I’m in an echo chamber. I hope you read this and I’d be more than willing to contribute my share to the cause.

    Reply

  2. Hildegaard Van Heusen

    March 8, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I think this is a great stepping stone for Canadian soccer, but the semi-pro aspect does worry me. Canada needs a FULLY professional league. Even if salaries are dirt cheap, having a full pro league would give young canadian players a place to go to play if they can’t immediately jump into the big leagues (ie. Makubuya, Cordon, Lindsay and all the other young TFC talent were cut for being “surplus”). Giving those players a place to play for pay will encourage players to stay in Canada longer, creating a national soccer culture and helping the development of the national team in the long run. I just worry that a semi pro league does not offer the same stability or incentives to Canadian players. A league that can sustain career players will help.

    Reply

  3. BQ

    February 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    “And, this begs a bigger question of MLS — knowing that this report was going to be released soon, why push a vision that’s incompatible with that of the Easton Report. Why show such disrespect to the Canadian Soccer Association?”

    Because the CSA is a joke and totally irrelevant? MLS doesn’t give a bleep about the idiots in the CSA and rightfully so.

    The MLS Big Three will put reserve teams in the USL-Pro. Problem solved. Who cares what the fools in the CSA say? They cannot even get a D2 league off the floor.

    Reply

    • thomas

      February 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Canada cares.

      The rest of the world cares.

      Fifa cares.

      That’s who cares.

      MLS is a commercially-driven league, not a national association affiliated to Fifa, like CSA and USSF. Canada (CSA) and USA (USSF) play in the World Cup, MLS and CSL don’t.

      MLS represents a threat to the global order of the game by refusing to respect national borders, and Fifa worries that uncultured American TV executives will attempt to wrestle control of the laws of the game away from them in the same way as the old NASL sought to impose quarters, points for corners, a countdown clock etc.

      MLS is a bandit league and Montagliani is Fifa’s lawman come to arrest the outlaw after Gulati went native.

      Blatter has more and bigger guns on his side than the Garber Gang put together – it doesn’t matter how rich and powerful Kraft and Anschutz are, they are small fry in the global game, so they better be respectful when playing with grown-ups. Soccer is a serious sport, and the international game is the big league.

      And, frankly, it doesn’t matter to Fifa whether a Canadian national league is sanctioned as D1, D2 or D99, it only matters that it is a national league. MLS/USL will comply. It is a matter of when, not if.

      Club v country is an old debate which won’t die. Accomodation will be reached, and it will be on Fifa terms.

      Reply

  4. Clay Guida

    February 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Honestly, I don’t care anymore.

    I grew up watching soccer in the late ’80s when Canada had a league and will never forgive the fact that we are one of the rare countries not to have a league.
    The CSL does a great job of giving us competitive soccer with the bonus of having a few Euro veterans thrown in as well.

    Quebec has also thrown away the promotion system and created their own semi-pro league last year using many of the ex-Impact players.

    So now, the CSA wants basically to do the same the provinces do. How big of them. They can’t get a Canadian league so they’re gonna tell the provinces how to run their own?

    What’s done in the CSL or in Quebec SemiPro league isn’t compatible with the regional leagues?

    Quebec has moved away from the CSA years ago when it comes to coaching; to have these Jonny Come Latelys now tell them how to run a provincial league (stop with the regional euphemism) is pretty rich.

    What a useless bunch of hooey.
    We have semi pro leagues in Quebec and Ontario.

    The idiots at the CSA pay some group to tell them that we can’t have a league (WRONG) but that instead we should have semipro leagues in QC and ON.

    So basically the CSA paid someone to tell them to do something that already exists (I’m not even going to mention the other stillborn Ontario semipro league which the OSA wants to push since they can control that one).

    Great job if you can get it.

    Canadian soccer: f***ed as usual.

    To say were a third world country in soccer would be an insult to those countries. We are a fourth world soccer country, NO ONE has so little organization or cohesion.

    But then again, if it wasn’t for the CFL and its 50% Can-con, we would be the worst country in the world when it comes to professional sports.

    Decades of clinging to American skirts has cause laziness and lack of sporting identity. (And the women’s game is NOT in a any way a model for sports where the national team players play more games there than with clubs).

    I travel for work all over the globe and the smallest countries all have their own pro leagues in soccer, basketball, handball, waterpolo, etc. And it irks me that the only thing we have is the Logan’s Run league where players reach 21 and their hockey careers are over.

    Reply

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