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A Study Into The Viability of Division II Football In Canada Phase I SWOT Assessment Analysis Report



In A League Of Our Own A Study Into The Viability of Division II Football In Canada Phase I SWOT Assessment Analysis Report

First Published December 2011

Š 2011 by Rethink Management Group, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Rethink Management Group, LLC.

Note To Readers About Terminology 1

using their own grouping criteria, have developed their

United States of America. This is for reader convenience only and does not imply territories by the writers. Additionally, in North America the sport of association football is better known by its Victorian-era slang name, soccer. However, in much of the rest of the world, the game is known as football or some phonetically similar name to football, such as futbul or futebol. Indeed, of the 45 English-speaking member associations of FIFA, only the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) continue to use soccer in their legal name. It is not our intent to involve ourselves in a debate over the use of football

Nevertheless, for the purposes of this report we deemed it necessary to choose between the two terms and we elected to use the sport’s more universally terminology and on occasion when referring to other football codes (i.e. CFL and NFL), we trust the reader to understand our meaning from the context in which the term appears.


The United Nations’ (UN)’s Statistics Division defines North America as Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the United States

designations used by the CSA to classify a professional football league; however, we use the terms in this report to represent a football league below

(U.S). Others like National

the level of Major League Soccer (MLS) and above the many youth and amateur

Geographic define North

men’s leagues that operate across the country and that are governed by the

America as all Caribbean and

country’s various provincial and territorial associations and federations. The

Central America countries, Canada, Mexico the U.S., as well

designation division II or D2 is a USSF classification and its standards are

as Greenland. While others still like the CDIAC, an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, more narrowly defines North America as consisting of only Canada and the U.S.


D3 designations. A copy of the CSA standards and the USSF standards are included in the appendices.

In a League of our own

Acknowledgements In October 2011, the CSA retained Rethink Management Group, LLC (Rethink) to evaluate the feasibility of a new professional men’s football league in Canada. The new league is intended to operate at the division II level of the North American football pyramid and provide an opportunity for promising Canadians to play meaningful matches in a professional football environment. The study is being conducted over two phases. I am pleased to present this initial phase I report to the CSA Executive for consideration. It is important that the report be read in its entirety to understand the background, context, methods and assumptions underlying the study’s

and contribution of ideas from a wide range of stakeholders with past and present

Mr. Rob Newman; Men’s National Team Head Coach, Mr. Stephen Hart; and Director of High Performance, Mr. Tony Fonseca. I also wish to acknowledge the Edmonton, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact; the provincial football associations / Soccer Alumni Association; and Colin Jose, the doyen of Canadian football historians, all of whom shared important insights that helped shape and inform this report. Also, I am particularly gratefully to Dr. Duane Rockerbie whose knowledge of sports economics enhanced the study’s intellectual value

editing and referencing. Lastly, I wish to express my gratitude to the greater

and omissions remain are entirely my own responsibility. It will be for the reader to decide if they are material and generative.

James Easton Managing Director, Rethink Management Group San Francisco, CA December 2011


List of Abbreviations





Australian Football League


Asian Football Conference


BC Soccer Association


Canadian Football League


Canadian Hockey League


Canadian Interuniversity Sport


Canadian Major Junior Hockey League


Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Association Football


Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol


Canadian Professional Soccer League


Canadian Soccer Association


Canadian Soccer League


Canadian United Soccer League


German Football Association


German Football League


Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League


English Premier League


Football Association


Football Federation Australia


International Federation of Association Football

J- League

Japanese Football League

K- League

South Korean Football League


League One Ontario


Major League Baseball


Major League Soccer


North American Soccer League


National Collegiate Athletic Association


National Football League


National Hockey League


Ontario Hockey League


Ontario Soccer Association


Pacific Coast Soccer League


Première Ligue de Soccer du Québec


Quebec Major Junior Hockey League


Soccer United Marketing


United Soccer Leagues


United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League


United Soccer Leagues – Professional League


United States Soccer Federation


Western Hockey Association


Western Hockey League


Western Soccer League

Table of Contents 1





Background of Football In Canada & North America



Approach and Method



Discussion & Findings



Four Frameworks


VI. SWOT Analysis


VII. Future Directions


List of Stakeholders Contacted

65 66 69

CSA Canadian Professional & Semi-Professional Soccer Standards


USSF Division I & II Soccer Standards


Figure 1 - FIFA Rankings of Canadian National Team

8 29

Figure 3 - Factors for Professional League Success


Figure 4 - FIFA Rankings Canada and Australia National Teams


Figure 5 - FIFA Rankings Canada and Japan National Teams


Figure 6 - FIFA Rankings Canada and South Korea National Teams


Table 1 - Age Distribution for Canadian Players in MLS League

22 47 49 51 Development-Focused League 53


In a League of our own



Introduction and promoting the sport of football in Canada. Formed in 1912, the CSA amateur club championships, and running the men’s and women’s senior and youth national teams. The business of the CSA is conducted by a provincial and territorial directors and a paid bureaucracy that operates from governance structure, which are expected to be introduced starting in 2012. The most notable of these changes is a reduction in the composition of the

that of a provincial or territorial association. In football, as in most sports, it is widely held that an elite domestic league or tournament is crucial to a sport in terms of garnering public and media attention, recruiting top athletes, attracting commercial sponsors, improving national team performance, and providing overall stability and growth. In October 2011, the CSA commissioned Rethink to study and report back on the viability of a new division II Canadian men’s professional football league.


In a League of our own

The broad intent of the two-phase study is:

Phase I To undertake a retrospective examination of previous Canadian professional football leagues, pinpointing key lessons from their failure; To examine other North American and global sports leagues to identify administrative and legal best practices; To consult with a wide range of people both inside and outside of the football industry through interviews, meetings and social media exchanges; To identify and describe a minimum of two preferred league frameworks (e.g. national versus regional, single promotion/relegation) that could provide an appropriate structure for a new professional league in Canada; best models that emerge to determine what one(s) is/are the most appropriate for Canada’s sporting landscape; and To submit an assessment report to the CSA of each model(s) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Phase II model(s) that emerge(s) as the most appropriate within a Canadian context, including identifying a community variety of socio-economic factors; Executive.



that emerged from a systematic review of other North American and world leagues and from consultations with a wide range of footballing interests; and an of each model and innovation. The investigation and report have been independently carried-out and prepared. league will be completed by the end of March 2012.


In a League of our own

Background of Football In Canada & North America


Background of Football In Canada & North America The game of football is arguably the most universal phenomena in sports today. sport’s importance in daily life can be seen in the aphorisms it inspires. The Italians


Canadian Soccer Association “CSA Strategic Plan 2009s-

In Canada, the game of football has experienced considerable growth and

11, available from http://soccer.

increased popularity over the past three decades and it is now the number one download/ CSA_ Strategicplan, accessed December 2011 3


2013.” (Ottawa: CSA, 2008), p.

FIFA, “World Ranking,” FIFA

participation sport in the country. 2 Canada currently ranks 37th in the world in total population while numbering tenth in the world in youth football participation.

Company Web site, http://.fifa.

However, while football at the grassroots level is thriving, the same cannot be


said of the elite level of the men’s game. Canada’s men’s national team currently

worldranking/rankingtable/ index.html, accessed December 2011. 4

Fred Coalter, John Taylor, &

football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.3

Grant Jarvie, “Culture of Winning In Scottish Sport, Phase 1: Report to the Scottish Institute of Sport Foundation,” Dept. of Sports Studies University of Stirling; Sept 2006, p. 10, available from http:// /scholar?q=cache:6vPRmJr_ com/&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5., accessed December 2011.



As a result, Canada’s position within

CONCACAF is perhaps a more useful measure of the state of Canadian football than FIFA’s world ranking list. CONCACAF is made up of 40 members, and includes the U.S. and Mexico, the region’s two dominant nations. Only the

In a League of our own

FIGURE 1. 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04

05 06 07 08 09 10 11

FIFA Ranking of 0

Canadian National Team Within the




6 8 10 12 14

Figure 1 above displays Canada’s ranking within the CONCACAF region over the past 17 years. Canada has placed as high as third (August 2007) in the rankings and as low as 13th (January 2007), and has demonstrated marked volatility in comparison to other countries in the region and a persistent drop in the rankings during the winter months.5


This winter dip can be partially explained by how the rankings

Although the FIFA and CONCACAF rankings receive considerable attention,

are determined. The Canadian

primarily for reasons of national prestige and esteem, for most fans of

team generally plays very few, if

international football the real longitudinal measure of a national team’s success

any, games in the winter, while other CONCACAF countries remain active, engaging in regular

In football’s modern era, Canada’s success in international tournaments 6

friendly matches. This tends to move Canada down in the points

and a

rankings even though there is little or no change in the quality

where Canada failed to earn a point or score a single goal. Irrespective of the measure used, it is widely agreed by followers of Canadian football that the men’s senior team is falling short of its potential, relative to the country’s wealth, population and levels of football participation.

of the Canadian team. 6

Source: page/GoldCup/HistoryDetail/0, 12802~1677225,00.html



Commentators have posited a number of reasons for Canada’s record of under-

approach to youth development; and a sports governance structure that is rooted in amateur ethos. Undoubtedly there is a grain of truth to all of these observations; however, many in Canadian football believe the dominant cause of the failure is the lack of a sustainable, national professional league. Indeed, their belief is supported by experience; of the six nations that competed in the hexagonal stage for the right to represent CONCACAF at the 2010 FIFA wisdom and casual empiricism would suggest a strong competitive domestic league is an important determinant of success in international football. This is a viewpoint that is also supported in the academic literature. In a 2009 study investigating the key variables affecting international football success, researchers found the strength of a country’s football institutions — and in particular its domestic leagues and teams — has a favourable impact on a national team’s performance.7

Major and Minors: North America’s Existing Football Leagues 7

Michael Leeds and Eva Marikova

hierarchy can be described as a pyramid, with professional football at the top

Leeds, “International Soccer

levels and an exponentially greater number of youth and recreational

Success and National Institutions,” Journal of Sport

leagues, teams, players, coaches, referees and volunteers at the bottom.

Economics August 2009 10:

MLS currently sits atop the pyramid as the region’s elite, professional


sanctioned league. FIGURE 2.

North American Football Pyramid



In a League of our own

Division I - MLS: Silver Bullet or Fool’s Gold?

traditional operating model of more established bodies like the English Premier

“MLS Surpasses NBA and NHL

primacy of ensuring the success of the league as a whole, rather than focusing

in Attendance,” Business Insider.

on individual teams. 2011-11-09/sports/ 30376881_1_ nhl-mls-attendance, accessed

After a challenging beginning, MLS now appears to be on an upswing in

December 2011.

attendance, revenue and visibility. Average match-day attendance for all clubs This places MLS now slightly higher than the


HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities Consulting, “Overview of MLS

although the league’s total attendance is far behind these two other leagues as

Team Proforma” PowerPoint Presentation to the MLS/ AAA Baseball Task Force, February 10, 2009, index.cfm?a=231170&c=49495


10 Peter Schwartz & Kurt

estimates, total league revenues are expected to rise modestly from $14 million

Badenhausen. “Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Teams,”

(including club sections) and advertising signage, with other commercial

Forbes, September 9, 2008,

revenues captured by the league. Total expenses are projected to rise from


$9.2 million in 2011 to $10.3 million by 2015, composed principally of payroll,


advertising and marketing expenses, and stadium costs. Each club is also projected to receive $1.6 million from Soccer United Marketing (SUM), MLS’s

html, accessed December 2011. 11 “Seattle Sounders Again Lead MLS in Attendance,” Sporting News, October 15, 2011. http:// story/2011-10-15/seattlesounders-again-lead-mls-in-



estimates published by Forbes predate Seattle‘s and Vancouver’s entry into

attendance, accessed December 2011 12 Nick Ricciardi. “USSN Major League Soccer Attendance

average attendance levels of 39,00011 and 20,13612 respectively.) Nevertheless,

Update,” US Soccer News, June

large corporate sponsors have not shied away from developing partnerships

20, 2011, http://ussoccernews.

with MLS, and many notable multi-national companies have stepped forward

net/2011/06/20/ussn-majorleague-soccer-attendanceupdate/, accessed December 2011.



surface, MLS’s expansion into Canada would seem like a positive development few Canadians actually play in the league. This number, when expressed as a percentage of MLS’s total pool of players, is relatively small and stands to become smaller should the league ever carry through with plans to eliminate the a minimum of three Canadian players on their rosters.13 The paucity of Canadian

and developed in Canada.14 TABLE 1. Age Distribution for Canadian Players in MLS

Age Category










Over 33




Source: 13 When Toronto FC first joined MLS they were required to have a minimum of 6 Canadian domestic players on their roster. The rule was changed to 3 before the 2011 season.

Canadian born players accounted for 21 of the 533 spots on MLS rosters during the 2011 season.15 The backgrounds of the younger (age 18-25) Canadian players are quite similar in their rise through the football hierarchy to MLS. All 14 players began playing football for local clubs in Canadian youth leagues. Ten of the players attended MLS club academies (Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps), three attended NCAA/NAIA programs, two players played in the USL PDL, two players played with lower division European clubs, two players played with NASL clubs and one player played in the USL PRO league. All of the 14 players have experience playing for the Canada U-17 and U-20 sides internationally.

14 “FC Edmonton Most Canadian Team in ‘11, Whitecaps Barely Register,” October 29, 2011 post on blog “Out of Touch,” http://oot-football.blogspot. com/2011/10/fc-edmonton-

Canadian talent, but rather to draw a hard line under the point that professional teams do not currently feel there are enough well developed Canadian players

most-canadian-team-in-11.html, accessed December 2011. 15 There are players listed as being born in Canada. It excludes players who are

domestic players, but do not extend the same recognition to Canadians signed to U.S. clubs, where they are considered internationals. Nevertheless, an honest

Canadian citizens but born

appraisal of the current pool of Canadian players reveals there are only a

outside Canada.

relatively small number who have the potential to become even serviceable MLS


In a League of our own

regulars. Moreover, many Canadians who do show potential already ply their trade abroad. There, they earn a higher salary — even in second tier European leagues — than they can in the monopsonistic, salary-capped MLS. To make matters worse, while there is currently a dearth of Canadians that are capable of playing as MLS regulars, there are even fewer in the mold of Landon star in the league and abroad. As such, teams are understandably hesitant to use coveted Designated Player spots slots — those players the league allows clubs to add above the salary cap — to sign a Canadian. That Canada’s professional clubs feel the need to import American players over

inherently inferior to American ones — there can be little arguing that Canada’s southern neighbors have been more successful in building and investing in

Some believe the underrepresentation of Canadian players in MLS will gradually and Toronto FC’s youth academies. The assumption is that the Vancouver and Toronto academies will be the catalyst needed to help close the talent gap by complexity of this issue and its potential relevance to Canada’s national team program, we have chosen to explore the issue in greater detail. MLS ACADEMIES – GAME CHANGERS? 53 member countries combined to post net losses of ¤1.6bn (CDN$2.1) and book 16

Over the past decade, a worrisome trend has

emerged in world club football that has seen teams spending beyond their means and taking significant risk in the transfer market in the pursuit of immediate on-field success. As a result, many clubs now find themselves

16 David Cone, “Uefa’s Fair Play Rules Will Help Clubs Rein in Spending,” The Guardian, January 25, 2012, http:// jan/25/uefa-financial-fair-playrules, accessed January 2012. 17 Al Goodman, “Spanish Football

sustained in the current economic climate without the intervention of deep-

Players Threaten Strike,” CNN,

pocketed owners. Indeed, we are now beginning to see the full extent of these

August 11, 2011, http://edition.

past excesses, as in the case of Spain, where over the past few seasons 22 of the 42 teams that form the country’s top two tiers have tumbled headlong into bankruptcy.17 spain.foosentiment tball.strike/ index.html, accessed December 2011.



“Twenty-Two Spanish Soccer

reputation for being one of football’s most successful and best-run

Clubs Have Entered Bankruptcy

teams and is held up as a model for self-sustainability. Arsenal has

Protection,” Business Insider,

chosen to put the development of youth talent at the centre of its business

July 11, 2011, http://articles. sports/30028386_1_

performance.19 Arsenal last reported an operating loss in 2002. Over the past four

galactico-real-madrid-transferfees#ixzz24skO2Jrc Press, accessed December 2011. 19 Arsenal FC, “Wenger We Are

from player sales.20 The club’s CEO, and former MLS Deputy Commissioner, 21

Committed to Youth Policy,” Arsenal FC Company web site, http://

It is now commonly accepted in the football industry that a material investment


in youth football can help contain spiraling wage and fee costs and assuage

committed-to-youth-policy 20 Swiss Rambler: “Arsenals Finance – 21 Questions,” posted on blog “Swiss Ramble,” http://swissramble.blogspot. com/2011/10/arsenals-finances-

commissions, it’s unlikely that a graduating academy player will have the same wage demands as an experienced, ready-made player brought in from another club. Additionally, a club that builds from within has the option to sell on these

21-questions.html, accessed December 2011. 21 “City would love to be where we

the Football Association, Football League and Premier League on young player

are!,” The Daily Mail, January 31, 2012, sport/football/article-2094262/

players; such players can be brought up within the culture of the club, and can 22

Manchester-City-love-Gazidis. html, accessed January 2012. 22 Richard Lewis, “A Review of Young Player Development in Professional Football. June 2007,

to other Premier League clubs who spend well in excess of turnover, would seem

via The Football League, http://.

to establish a prima facie, accessed December 2011. 23 Whitecaps FC, “MLS academies

get noticed and copied almost immediately. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that almost all clubs in MLS now have their own academies, although Vancouver and Toronto currently are the only teams to have Canadian players on

will benefit Canada,” Vancouver Whitecaps FC Web site, http://

23 mls-academies-will-benefitcanada, accessed,

player development responsibilities should be completely devolved to the

December 2011.

country’s MLS clubs.


In a League of our own

in youth development, it remains to be seen whether Vancouver and Toronto

team is comparatively poor. Indeed, of the over 4,000 players who debuted for the 23 clubs who graced the Premiership between the 1992-93 and 2006-2007 plus games for the club that developed them.24 Furthermore, behind Arsenal’s reputation as one of football’s best developers of talent lies an inconvenient truth. The success of Arsenal’s youth policy lies

from across the world at minimal cost. They then bring these youths to the out such sublime talents as Cesc Fabregas and Nikolas Anelka, Arsenal has achieved very little in terms of producing domestic, let alone local players for

Arsenal is hardly alone in this regard. Manchester United, whose academy at

Manchester United) managed to develop just 16 domestic players between them

24 Graham Anderson & Rory Miller, “The Academy System in English

the club.


Professional Football: Business Value or Following the Herd,” University of Liverpool Management School,

There are several reasons why English academies have yielded so little domestic

Working Paper 2011/43 25 Ibid

elite player development responsibilities should be handed over to the country’s

26 David Ornstein, “Academies

professional clubs.26

Go From Substandard to

English football or have been informed by European Union jurisprudence such

Ridiculous,” The Guardian, September 4, 2007, http://

tale on why MLS academies might not be the panacea for national player development some believe them to be. sep/05/newsstory.sport6, accessed December 2011.



talent ex ante is a speculative and inexact science. Nobody can say for certain

early promise. Even for the most experienced evaluator, predicting an amateur

face trying to judge sporting talent in the National Football League (NFL), where


In October 2010, Sports Illustrated writer Gabriele Marcotti determined that on

or were on their way to achieving it. 29 Football academies serve an important funneling function that help clubs to forge and measure talent, but they are useful only up to a point. It is almost impossible to predict with certainty whether academy. There exists a fog of uncertainty that hangs over almost every player who has yet to make his professional debut. Very often there is no other way to reliably assess a young player’s professional potential except by observing them

27 Malcolm Gladwell, “Most Likely To Succeed: How Do We Hire

Therein lies the problem faced by academy graduates: opportunities to play in

When We Can’t Tell Who’s Right for the Job?” New Yorker,

Each level of progression through the academy leads to an ever-narrowing

December 15, 2008,

bottleneck of talent and opportunity. For young Canadian players, already reporting/2008/12/15/

burdened by a selection bias, which assumes they are less accomplished than

081215fa_fact_gladwell, accessed December 2011

clubs as domestic players but do not extend the same recognition to Canadian

Ibid 29 Gabriele Marcotti, “Youth

players playing for U.S. clubs, where they are considered internationals.

Development Is Guess Work,”, October 14, 2010, http:// writers/gabriele_marcotti/10/14/ top50.prospects/index.html, accessed December 2011.


One would like to believe that the cream always rises to the top, but this is not

In a League of our own

but mediocre talent, than assume the risk of taking on a promising but unknown

30 Marko Terviˆ, “Superstars and Mediocrities: Market Failure In

inexperienced workers is subject to much uncertainty, and where performance on the job is to a large extent publicly observable, is a likely candidate for market 30

The Discovery of Talent.” The Review of Economic Studies, 2009, 72(2), p.829-850. 31 Ibid


32 MLS, “Climbing the Ladder: The role of US players in MLS,” MLS Company Web site, http:// 32

There is a fear,

however, that these numbers might drop and North American players might 2011/11/09/climbing-ladderrole-us-players-mls, accessed December 2011. 33 John Haydon, “ Players from 66

it one of the most diverse football leagues in the world.33 As MLS’s brand and

nations represented in MLS,”

economic status grows in world football, the league is likely to become an even

The Washington Times, April 17,

more desirable destination, especially for experienced journeymen players who

2012, http://communities.,


accessed April 2012.

MLS is fully within its rights to recruit foreign footballers. Indeed, the addition

34 FIFAPro, “Too little respect for the professional footballer,” FIFAPro Company Web site,

times unfriendly North American professional sports market. This diversity also ball cultures and perspectives. Even so, signing international players, especially stock mediocre ones, limits opportunities for domestic born players. details/1841, accessed December 2011. 35 Mike Jacobs, “Coaching longevity hard to come by in MLS,” April 9, 2012, post on blog “mjpurpleaces,” http://mj-

Furthermore, an investment in youth is an investment in the future, but this investment can take seven or eight years to mature. Paradoxically, professional 2012/04/coaching-longevityhard-to-come-by-in.html, accessed April 2012.

in the UEFA Champions League Final does not guarantee a manager will keep his job for next season. Today’s coaches and managers are given only a small

36 Henry Winter, “Football Managers In Perilous

window of opportunity to make an impact on their team. The average tenure

Backwaters of Lower Leagues

of the 103 MLS club coaches is 2.1 years,

Face Uncertain Times,”


some leagues like England’s Football League Championship, where managers change on average every 1.29 years.36 However, averages have a habit of hiding

The Telegraph, January 18, 2011, columnists/henrywinter/ 8265347/Henry-Winter-football-

two MLS teams have changed coaches at a rate that exceeds the MLS average.

managers-in-perilous-backwaters-of-lower-leagues-faceuncertain-times.html, accessed

team coaches in a combined six seasons in MLS.

December 2011.



Understandably, the two clubs are relative newcomers to MLS and are still is no margin for loss, there is little margin for risk. Former Liverpool FC great

leagues.37 As there is a measure of risk playing untested academy graduates, it should come as no surprise when a newly installed coach arrives at a club with a

club to try and instill winning ways, rather than put his immediate professional future in the hands of young, untested Canadians. Additionally, given football’s current obsession with instant success, one should not be surprised if a new coach shows little interest in the club’s academy program, at least initially, as it is unlikely he will be around long enough to see any return on the investment. something that was raised by Richard Lewis in his report on young player

and go at very short notice, often bringing (and taking) with them close colleagues 39

37 “Top 50 European Football Leagues 2010/11,” via Compare European Football Leagues,

youth development., accessed December 2011. Richard Bevan, “Football’s Short-term Hire and Fire Approach to Managers Suits No

professionals make the error in assuming that a club’s operations and technical

One,” The Guardian, January 8, 2011,

a powerful but generally underestimated role. Undoubtedly, stability and having


a top manager in charge of your football club cannot but help improve a club’s

managers-richard-bevan, accessed December 2011.

odds of success at developing young players.

39 Richard Lewis, “A Review of Young Player Development in Professional Football. June 2007, via The Football League, http://

establishing development academies in England can be traced back to 20070711/lewis-reviewpublished_2293301_1071681, accessed December 2011.


was no doubt hastened by Manchester United’s success at spinning out

In a League of our own

wanting to be left behind or to miss out on the next big thing, many clubs stated, United has not been able to replicate its earlier success. It is not that Sir Alex Ferguson has lost his touch or that United has failed to invest the necessary resources in youth development since; if anything, they have increased their investment in their academy. At least in part, United’s success


Acknowledging the importance of chance in player development could be key to determining Canada’s football future. Canada is a country of almost one

development to two youth academies may be too narrow an approach. No have the answer that will bring about a great leap forward in Canadian men’s football. Rather, it is far more likely that the academies of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal when they join MLS in 2012, will form one of several important elements in a comprehensive suite of programs and initiatives that will help further the growth of Canadian football.

Division II - A History of Turmoil into a confusing mess. Over the past 25 years, North America’s lower football tiers have seen an alphabet soup of leagues come and go. It is at the division II level of the football pyramid that the CSA has asked Rethink to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a new professional men’s league in Canada. NASL 2.0 Until recently the United Soccer Leagues (USL) was North America’s acknowlwas being operated, a group of team owners broke-away from the USL to setup their own league, the North American Soccer League (NASL).

40 Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking Fast and Slow, (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2011), p. 178.



of lawsuits. After much posturing, however, the two feuding leagues agreed to withdraw their claims and have the USSF mediate a resolution. After a week-long negotiation, a compromise was brokered that saw teams from both entities agreeing to play in an interim 12-team league that was overseen by U.S. Soccer known simply as the U.S. Soccer Division II League. Meanwhile, the USSF, unhappy with constant turmoil in its lower tiers, and having more stringent division II sanctioning process for 2010. In addition to complying

This PagetheIntentionally Blank pyramid into a single instead to collapse top two tiers of its Left own intra-football division III league that was more regionally focused and rebranded as USL PRO.

To receive a copy of the full phase I report please contact the CSA at their offices in Ottawa, Canada.At present there are no Canadian teams competing in USL PRO. The newly formed NASL, on the other hand, continued to seek division II sanctioning. The USSF initially agreed to sanction the NASL in November 2010, revoked sanctioning in January 2011 due to concerns the Federation had about 2011 and grant the league provisional sanctioning for the 2011 season.

Edmonton and Montreal playing in the league, the USSF has again agreed to provisionally sanction the NASL to run division II for 2012. However, the league

currently funding three of the league’s eight teams and helping support another. 31 Canadian players turned-out for NASL clubs during the 2011 season; however, with Montreal moving up to MLS in 2012, this number is certain to drop. It is hoped that the recent NASL announcement that a new club in Ontario










Ottawa, when of

Canadian players after Montreal moves to MLS.


In A League Of Our Own - Phase I  

A Study Into The Viability Of Div. II Soccer In Canada

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