The Canadian Premier League has borrowed a format commonly used in minor-pro baseball. The CPL will feature a split season with the first-half champion meeting the second-half champion in the league final.
Island-based Pacific FC is among seven charter franchises in the CPL, which is the realization of the long-held Canadian soccer dream of a domestic pro league.
“The advantage of starting a new league is that you get to write your own script,” said Josh Simpson, president and co-owner of Pacific FC.
“A lot of thought went into the schedule and we believe this format maximizes the suspense.”
The format is also used in pro soccer in other parts of the world, including Mexico, where the season is split between the opening Apertura portion and closing Clausura portion.
The CPL announced its full schedule on Wednesday. It features a Spring Season from April 27 to July 1 in which each team will play 10 games. The standings will then be reset for the Fall Season, from July 6 to Oct. 19, in which each team will play 18 games.
All told, each club will play 14 home and 14 away games.
Pacific FC’s franchise-first game, April 28 against the HFX Wanderers of Halifax at Westhills Stadium in Langford, was previoulsy announced. It will constitute the third-longest trip in the world between domestic pro league Premiership soccer clubs.
It will be the second game in league history, a day after the also previously announced inaugural CPL game April 27 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont., between host Forge FC and visiting York9 from the Greater Toronto Area.
Pacific FC will play seven Saturday home dates, four on Wednesdays, two on Sundays and one on Canada Day, Monday, July 1.
The away portion of the schedule includes two stretches of three consecutive away games. The most glaring is the trip to Halifax on June 1, followed by another to Toronto on June 15 to play York9, and a visit to Winnipeg on June 20 to meet Valour FC.
“Travel is the challenge of any Canada-wide national league in what is one of the largest countries in the world,” said Victoria-raised Simpson, a former European pro with 43 caps for Canada.
“But that’s what makes it so attractive at the same time. Also, it’s a different time now for travel than it was 20 years ago. That’s why it’s going to be feasible.”
Pacific FC has 12 players under contract, including 27-time Canada-capped former Scottish Premiership player Marcus Haber and 56-time Canada capped former MLS and Bundesliga pro Marcel de Jong.
Training camp opens in March, on dates yet to be announced. A portion of training camp will take place in Tofino.
Westhills Stadium is being expanded to 6,000 seats for Pacific FC home games. Simpson said more than 600 season tickets have been sold since they went on sale last week.
Meanwhile, Pacific FC announced Mira Laurence has been hired as director of communications and community partnerships. Laurence was with CTV Vancouver Island for 13 years and covered the Vancouver Canucks the last two years for Sportsnet 650.
“This is an incredible opportunity to come home to Vancouver Island to be part of something special,” said Laurence.