Canadian Premier League changes league format ahead of 2020 season

Forge FC's Kyle Bekker, centre right, holds the trophy after defeating Cavalry FC during the Canadian Premier League soccer final. (Jeff McIntosh/AP)

The Canadian Premier League announced wholesale changes to its league structure on Friday, including the implementation of a single table and a balanced 28-game schedule for each of the league’s eight clubs.

With the adaptation to a single table, the team with the most points at the end of the regular season will receive an automatic berth in the final. The second and third-place sides in the table will then square off in a playoff to determine the other participant in the finale.

“The process around single-table was that we were challenged by our supporters and fans to look at different ways to look at the league, and by media guys, too, for what we could do differently,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan. “When we went back and looked at what happened last year, we realized that more clubs could stay in the hunt for a longer period of time in a single table. Granted, it won’t always work that way, but that’s okay – that’s football. But, we think this is something the clubs will get into, especially with an eighth club coming in.”

The changes were made following the addition of the CPL’s eighth club, Atletico Ottawa.

The CPL used a split-season format with a Spring and Fall season during its inaugural campaign in 2019 with the champions facing each other in the championship final, unless the same team won both titles, which Cavalry FC did last year. The second best-placed side, which was Forge FC last season, ended up facing Cavalry in the final.

The 2020 season begins on April 11 with a doubleheader featuring Forge hosting Cavalry in a rematch of last year’s final at Tim Hortons Field. Pacific FC and FC Edmonton face one another in the second match of the day.

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