Noonan On CPL Expansion: Quebec Leads The Charge, But Other Locations Looming
Excerpts of the following story is from John Jacques of the Northern Tribune from November 8, 2023 https://northerntribune.ca/canadian-premier-league-expansion-quebec-2023/.
Canadian Premier League Commissioner Mark Noonan revealed plenty of positives during his state of the league address last month, including the revelation of a new buyer for York United and expansion plans to see two new clubs in 2025 and at least a further pair in 2026, hitting his goal of 12 teams by the time Canada hosts a World Cup.
Speaking with Le Droit earlier this season, the commissioner loosed some fantastic morsels on expansion for not only La Belle province, but a couple others as well. These offer a more complete picture of where the league is actively eyeing expansion, and while the French coverage didn’t cover the ground it should have in English media, upon seeing it we wanted to organize it for the rest of the audience – and add some new items from ourselves, too.
Without further ado, here’s some big statements on where the CPL is focusing on expansion:
Quebec City Leading The Race
We’ve long written about Quebec City headlining the chase for expansion, where the majority of residents are in favour of a professional soccer club. Noonan openly stated that the provincial capital is the furthest place along in terms of the league planting a flag in Quebec, but there are things that still need to be sorted out.
“I can’t give a date for expansion in Quebec, but I’d like a club there as soon as possible. We have momentum in Quebec City right now, but a CPL club couldn’t play permanently at Laval University. It would have to be a short-term solution. We’re not going to approve a club in Quebec City if there isn’t a stadium project attached to it.”
Fans can look no further than York United to see how a university stadium can put tough limits on what a club can do to build a matchday atmosphere. With attendance proving a tough spell over there, the league looks to have learned its lesson: Quebec City will need to have a firm stadium project attached to it, though it appears some wiggle room will be given if Stade Telus is to used temporarily. While it boasts a full capacity north of 18,000, it’s not an ideal situation – but then again, it’s also not ideal for Canada’s top flight not to have a team in Quebec.
With Saskatoon now in pergatory after its own stadium plans fell flat, though, it’s a measure of risk-versus-reward only somewhat mitigated by a temporary venue’s existence. At the present, Noonan remains in positive discussions with Quebec Soccer general manager Pierre Marchand, who has long-said discussions to bring the CPL to Quebec were making progress.
Over in Montreal – where there’s ample competition from MLS heights – Noonan has turned his eyes specifically on Laval, where there have been longstanding rumours of league expansion since 2019, particularly with former Canadian international Alex Bunbury.
“Whether it’s Quebec City, Montreal, or Trois-Rivieres, our clubs need a place to play,” says Noonan, who wants to see these areas secure stadium plans where the expansion sides are the primary tenants – if not owners – of their prospective stadium grounds.
While he’d like to plant a flag in Quebec ‘yesterday’, it’s another case of patience and past lessons learnt, though he listed Quebec as top of his expansion priorities for Canada’s top flight. He isn’t worried about competition from CF Montreal either, though he offered their rival metropolitan city as an example of sports entertainment density.
“In London, there are 14 professional teams in a single market. Half are in the Premier League and half in the English Championship. Eventually, if we do our job right, we could have four-to-six clubs in the Toronto area because the population is there to support these teams.”
For the rest of the possibilities in expansion in the CPL, please go to John Jacques’ story https://northerntribune.ca/canadian-premier-league-expansion-quebec-2023/.