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Canadian Premier League firming up plans for a 2020 season

HFX Wanderers FC coach Stephen Hart wears a mask for training during Phase 1 of the Canadian Premier League's return to training. (HFX Wanderers FC)
HFX Wanderers FC coach Stephen Hart wears a mask for training during Phase 1 of the Canadian Premier League's return to training. (HFX Wanderers FC)

The Canadian Premier League isn’t in a position yet to announce anything concrete but it sounds almost certain there will be a 2020 season.

The second-year professional soccer league sent out a news release on Friday saying the owners, clubs and players have agreed on a concept for a modified structure to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. No further details were unveiled but it’s probable it will still be several more weeks before any games can be played. 

“Our position since we began the journey of building the league from the ground up has been to work together,” CPL commissioner  David Clanachan said in a news release. “We started this process behind the scenes many weeks ago in consultation with our owners last week on the many details and protocols required to safely return to the field of play and potential opportunities that may emerge. This led to the next step of a collaborative discussion with the players this week.”

At one point, there was serious discussion of creating a hub city to host all league games like the NHL is doing but that was not mentioned in the latest update. HFX Wanderers FC previously suggested Prince Edward Island as a potential neutral venue and Vancouver Island has apparently also been floated but not much more is known at this point.

“I and the rest of the squad are looking forward with excitement, energy and enthusiasm as we work towards a return to play,” Wanderers defender Alex De Carolis said in the release. “The CPL has gone to the extreme in ensuring player, staff and club safety as we discuss a new format of play for the 2020 season. We know this season has not turned out the way we expected but we are all excited for whatever format is presented. There will be no excuses or asterisk on this 2020 season and we will be fully prepared for the opening kick-off. We want to compete for our fans and the city of Halifax as best we can.”

The Wanderers launched Phase 1 of a return-to-play program on Monday. They are training at the Soccer Nova Scotia facility with individual players in quadrants on the field and coaches distancing with masks. Phase 2 would be training in small groups and Phase 3 would be full group practices. Their training has been on hold since March 13 and the first league game was originally scheduled for April 13 but had to be shelved because of the pandemic.

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