Now that the sizzle is done, it’s time for the steak.
With Friday’s slickly produced introductory celebration unveiling of Pacific FC behind them, president Josh Simpson and executive Rob Friend turn their thoughts to building the product on the field for next spring’s inaugural season at an upgraded Westhills Stadium in the professional Canadian Premier League of soccer.
With their extensive connections in the game, Simpson and Friend indicated they will co-handle the general-manager duties.
Victoria’s Simpson had 43 caps for Canada and played pro extensively with European clubs. Kelowna’s Friend had 32 caps for Canada and played pro in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and 1860 Munich.
A decision on a coach is expected in the fall.
“Coaching is crucial and we have three or four candidates in mind and a lot of candidates have approached us,” said Simpson.
“We want a coach who is young, dynamic and innovative and who will help build the game for Canada as we look to 2026 [when Canada co-hosts the World Cup].”
A source has told the Times Colonist that a leading candidate could be 32-year-old Riley O’Neill, who came out of Campbell River to star in the NCAA for the University of Kentucky Wildcats and for Canada in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, before a pro career in Germany and Finland. O’Neill has gained a reputation as a developer of young talent as a coach in the elite Island Wave youth soccer program.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton Spectator reports that players in the CPL will make between $40,000 and $60,000 per season.
CPL commissioner David Clanachan, who was in Victoria for Friday’s reveal and launch of the Pacific FC franchise, said there will be a salary cap for both players and coaches.
“That salary cap has not been disclosed yet,” said Clanachan, the former president and COO of Tim Hortons, who added the league is working through those details.
Clanachan, however, confirmed there will be strict Canadian player quotas.
“Greater than 50 per cent of each team’s roster must consist of Canadian players, and more than 50 per cent of the players on the field at any time [a minimum of six] must be Canadians,” he said.
The whole idea of the CPL, he said, is to build up the Canadian game.
Simpson said the goal is for the CPL to have an impact on the national team, not just for 2026 as co-host, but as a qualifier for Qatar 2022.
“The CPL will be a development path to the national team,” he said. “And we don’t want to just reach the World Cup. We want to compete once there.”