By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press November 10, 2021.
The Canadian Premier League arrives in Vancouver.
The league announced on Wednesday that a ninth franchise will embark for the 2023 season. This is the first addition since Atletico Ottawa joined in 2020.
“Not only is it great for soccer in Canada, but I think it’s great for the Canadian Premier League,” said Commissioner David Clanachan. “I think it’s great for all of our fans and supporters. And for everything we’re trying to build “¦ For me, every time we take a step forward, it’s not just a step forward, it’s a step forward.”
Vancouver’s franchise expansion has been attributed to SixFive Sports and Entertainment LP, owner of Pacific FC, the CPL team based in Langford, British Columbia.
SixFive’s general partners are former Canadian internationals Rob Friend and Josh Simpson, investment entrepreneur Dean Shillington and Starlight Investments, a private real estate investment and asset management firm based in Toronto.
Shillington said the group had spoken to eight or nine municipalities in the Lower Mainland about the location of the stadium.
“We’re close, but we thought it was a good time to bring it to the community, to the fans. We want to know where everyone wants us, ”Shillington said in an interview from England.
The plan is to build a stadium from scratch, with a capacity of around 8,000 people initially, but which can be expanded if necessary across the board.
As for sharing the city with the MLS Whitecaps, Shillington says his group sees no problem with two teams in the Metro Vancouver area. Toronto has two professional soccer clubs with Toronto FC in MLS and York United FC, a CPL team that plays at York University in the north of the city.
Shillington says owning multiple teams is part of the SixFive plan.
“We are simply the gatekeepers of a larger brand. So our goal has been to invest in Canadian football wherever we can and to continue to invest in Canadian football. So we’re very excited to use what we’ve learned from Pacific, add Vancouver to the mix, and then pass it on to the supporters and the community to take care of.
Clanachan says Shillington will be the lead man in the Vancouver franchise while Friend and Simpson focus on Pacific.
“We got it right,” Clanchan said.
Shillington is President of Knightsbridge Capital Group and owner of Caffe Artigiano, which has branches in British Columbia and Alberta.
Simpson won 43 caps for Canada while Friend won 32.
Simpson has played with English club Millwall, German FC Kaiserlautern, Turkish Manisaspor and Swiss Young Boys from BSC. He retired in 2015 with a badly broken leg.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2003, Friend chose to go to Europe and played in Norway for Moss FK and Molde FK and in the Netherlands with SC Heerenveen and Heracles Almelo. He then embarked on a successful course in Germany, with Borussia Moenchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and TSV 1860 Munchen.
He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in January 2014, but retired later that year at the age of 33 after missing more than five months of action due to concussion-related issues. .
SixFive Sports and Entertainment is a global football fund “seeking investment in high growth markets, under-managed European clubs and struggling or recovery opportunities”. The name comes from the size of Friend and Shillington.
Friend is also a co-founder and partner of the DRG Investment Group with Simpson.
Simpson is also a co-founder and partner of Von Schwanau Invest AG, an international real estate investment group based in Switzerland.
The current CPL teams are HFX Wanderers FC, (Halifax) Atletico Ottawa, York United FC (Toronto), Forge FC (Hamilton), Valor FC (Winnipeg), Cavalry FC (Calgary), FC Edmonton and Pacific FC.
Clanachan says other expansion plans are underway.
The league has previously granted “exclusive rights” to an expansion franchise to a company planning to start a franchise in Saskatoon. Clanachan says Living Sky Sports and Entertainment Inc. is continuing to work on a suitable stadium.
“As for the other franchises, we have three or four groups that we’re talking to right now,” he said in an interview. “I don’t want to tell you who there is, but I am extremely excited that we are able to grow the business. And we should be able to cultivate it. We’re open for business, we’re a new league. And we see better things every day in our league and our clubs. “
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 10, 2021.