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With the gameworld now fifteen years old, some things have changed and moved on. With Canada not being loaded until now, there’s been little transfer activity but the national team has some bright prospects – although largely from the Canadian based MLS clubs, Toronto, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps. In terms of the CPL history, Forge FC (8), Ottawa (5), Cavalry (3), HFX and Pacific FC (1) have all won competitions with Valour, Vancouver and York United the three remaining sides never to achieve anything, albeit third places for the Valour and York in the last two seasons. In continental competition, they’ve fared pretty badly, too:

  • Forge FC – Quarter final of CONCACAF in 2024
  • Pacific FC – 2nd round of CONCACAF in 2028
  • Cavalry – 2nd round of CONCACAF in 2036
  • Ottawa – First round only

However, Cavalry were runners up of Amway Canadian Championship in 2034, a competition that invites the Canadian MLS sides into it.

– – –

A humongous step down from Bayer and the riches and glory there, but I do feel that I’ve missed the hard graft at this level!

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The Canadian Premier League (CPL) is the premier professional soccer league in Canada, inaugurated in 2019 with the goal of advancing Canadian football talent and providing a professional platform for players, coaches, and officials. The CPL comprises several independently owned and operated teams, with the number of teams increasing over time, although this is not modelled in FM. The CPL season is divided into two main segments: the regular season and the playoffs. During the regular season, teams compete in a round-robin format, playing each other multiple times to accumulate points through wins and draws. A win earns a team 3 points, a draw earns 1 point, and a loss earns no points. At the end of the regular season, the top teams advance to the playoffs, which culminates in the CPL Championship. The winner of the CPL Championship qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League, representing Canada in this prestigious international club competition.

There are specific roster rules to promote Canadian talent and maintain competitive balance. Each team must have a minimum number of Canadian players on their roster and in their matchday squad. There are also limits on the number of international players that each team can sign and field in a match. Additionally, teams are required to provide a minimum number of playing minutes to Under-21 Canadian players over the course of the season, ensuring that young Canadian talent gets valuable playing experience.

Composition and Limits

  • Total Roster Size: Each CPL team typically has a roster consisting of up to 23 players. This includes both senior and youth players. Honestly, my preference is always with a smaller squad – so I think I’ll like this. However, the concern is that includes youth graduates, too, which’ll mean that the 23 is made of some very poor player.
  • Canadian Content: A significant portion of the roster must be composed of Canadian players. The CPL mandates that at least 50% plus one of the players on a team’s roster be Canadian. This requirement ensures that Canadian players have ample opportunities to play and develop in a professional environment. I absolutely am 100% for this part of the squad building and will always – well, as long as my staff bring them in – prioritise homegrown players.
  • International Players: While the league encourages the development of Canadian talent, it also allows for the inclusion of international players. Teams are permitted to sign up to seven international players. This cap ensures a balance between developing local talent and bringing in international experience and skill. It’ll be nice to see if I can bring some quality talent into the country and grow the league in the time that I am here.

Matchday Squad Requirements

  • Canadian Players in Matchday Squad: On matchdays, each team must include at least six Canadian players in their 18-player matchday squad. This rule is in place to guarantee that Canadian players consistently get playing time.
  • Under-21 Canadian Players: The league has a specific requirement that teams must provide a minimum number of playing minutes to Under-21 Canadian players over the course of the season. For example, in recent seasons, teams were required to ensure that U-21 Canadian players collectively accumulate at least 2,000 minutes of playing time during the season. This regulation aims to foster the development of young Canadian talent by giving them significant playing opportunities. In FM, it is modelled by a fine and also not being allowed to take part in the playoffs, should a team reach it. I’m really interested to see whether this is strictly adhered to and, actually, whether it’s even going to be tough to achieve.

Player Designations

  • Designated Players: Similar to other leagues, the CPL allows teams to have designated players whose salaries may exceed the team’s salary cap. This enables teams to attract higher-caliber talent without compromising the overall budget.
  • Developmental Players: Teams are encouraged to sign young and developmental players. These players, often from local academies or youth setups, can be integrated into the first team and given opportunities to train and play with the senior squad.

Salary Cap and Financial Regulations

  • Salary Cap: The CPL enforces a salary cap to maintain financial parity among teams. Each team has a maximum budget for player salaries, ensuring that no single team can significantly outspend the others. This cap includes player wages, bonuses, and other compensation.
  • Budget Management: Teams must manage their budgets to fit within the salary cap while balancing the need for experienced players and developing talent. This often involves strategic decisions regarding player contracts, transfers, and loans.

Transfer and Loan Policies

  • Transfers: Teams can acquire players through domestic and international transfers. The CPL has specific transfer windows during which teams can sign new players or transfer players to other clubs.
  • Loans: Teams can loan players to and from other clubs, including those in different leagues. Loans are a common way for young players to gain experience and playing time.

Development and Academies

  • Youth Academies: Many CPL teams have associated youth academies that train and develop young players. These academies are integral to the league’s mission of fostering homegrown talent.
  • Homegrown Player Rule: Players developed through a team’s academy system can be signed as homegrown players, often with certain benefits in terms of roster spots and salary cap exemptions.

It feels like a slightly watered down MLS, which, honestly, was on my radar for this and any future save. But, with just eight teams, I think that I can really build the level of immersion and, hopefully, do pretty well with whichever club I end up at!

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Each thumbnail links to a profile of the manager.

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Sadly, with little representation and an unloaded league, seven of these eight managers are ‘new’ to the game, having replaced the original ‘real’ managers on the 1st January 2037, despite them all leaving a decade or so prior to that. However, that does create seven clean slates for these managers to impress their new bosses, or, ideally for me, to not – allowing me an opportunity to get my first taste of North American football in, I believe, any FM game.

It’ll be really interested to chart how their styles and formations change over time and also how they then build their teams around these as time goes on. Furthermore, with – once I’m through the door – just seven other managers to contend with, it’ll be great to dig deeper tactically to try and create game plans as well as mind games between us.

– – –

The next job is to now let the game move on, on holiday, before taking up the reigns at whoever employs me. I, purposely, haven’t included any information about the players at this point because that’ll come next

Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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