The professional soccer Canadian Premier League, which includes Island club Pacific FC, announced rollbacks Monday to staff salaries and deferment of 25 per cent of player salaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The start of the 2020 league schedule had previously been postponed. Pacific FC was to have hosted FC Edmonton last Saturday at Westhills Stadium as one of three opening games to kick-start the campaign.
“The Canadian Premier League and its member clubs have been working hard to minimize the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our business,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan, in a statement.
“Despite our best efforts, we are now having to make adjustments to our operations, including the wages of our hard working and passionate players, coaches and employees . . . during this challenging time in order to keep as many people as possible employed.”
The Times Colonist reached out to Pacific FC president Josh Simpson and CEO Rob Friend for comment. The club sent a written response that only the league would be commenting and that nobody at PFC would be making a statement about the rollbacks at this time.
Simpson last weekend said he remains hopeful the CPL can play this season. Clanachan reiterated that sentiment Monday.
The league has a couple of things in its favour. The most important is that the soccer season is expansive. The CPL season extends to October with the playoffs scheduled to follow. PFC’s final regular-season game was to be Oct. 4 at Westhills Stadium against York9 of Toronto. It is conceivable to play CPL soccer well beyond that into late November, although weather starts to become an issue in other parts of Canada.
Another advantage is all eight of the league’s franchises are Canadian based with no border crossings required to play games.
A start-up for MLS, NHL and NBA would have to factor in the fact only traffic deemed essential is currently being permitted to cross the Canada-U.S. border.
“We look forward to starting our season and welcoming back our amazing fans when authorities say it is safe to do so,” said Clanachan.