Canadian Premier League looking to resume play in Prince Edward Island

The UFC has Fight Island. The Canadian Premier League is looking at Prince Edward Island.

The P.E.I. government confirmed Thursday that it has been approached by Halifax's HFX Wanderers FC "to see if our province would be interested in hosting the Canadian Premier League 2020 season."

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"The CPL is currently searching for a safe location to play its entire 2020 season and the Halifax Wanderers thought our Island would be a good fit," the province's Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture added in a statement. "We are working through the stages of figuring out the details of how we could host the CPL on our Island.

"We would love to host the 2020 season, as it would be a huge impact for our Island's economy. However, the health and safety of Islanders always comes first. There are many health guidelines and restrictions that need to be reviewed and approved by our chief medical health office. Once these are approved, we will put together a package to bid as a host for the CPL."

The CPL said it had no comment "at this time."

P.E.I. had been looking to host several HFX Wanderers games prior to the pandemic.

As of Thursday, P.E.I. had reported 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with no deaths The province plans to further relax restrictions on June 1.

Organized recreational activities and team sports will be allowed although modifications will be required based on the level of physical contact involved.

The eight-team CPL was scheduled to start its second season on April 11 but postponed the kickoff on March 20, saying it was following Canada Soccer's decision to suspend all sanctioned soccer activities — and COVID-19 directives by governments and health officials banning public gatherings during the global pandemic.

The suspension of the regular season came one week after the CPL said it was halting pre-season training for all its clubs for 14 days. The league has remained on hiatus since then.

Now the CPL is looking to resume training, although it may be a staggered return depending on local health and government restrictions.

Since suspending play, the league has asked the federal government for financial assistance during the global pandemic. The league has asked Ottawa for "short-term financing'' of $15 million, saying it is working "on any and all scenarios'' related to playing a season in 2020.

CPL commissioner David Clanachan said the league needed help in the form of bridge financing.

The league has already moved to control costs.

Players are having 25 per cent of their contracts deferred, while coaches, technical staff, and club and league employees are taking unspecified pay reductions "during this challenging time in order to keep as many people as possible employed.''

The UFC, looking to find ways to escape international travel restrictions, is building a fight venue on an island. UFC president Dana White says he expects it will be ready in June although the MMA organization has not said where the island is located.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

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