FC Edmonton and the Canadian Premier League (CPL) are still unsure if there is going to be a 2020 season. To be fair, the CPL is not the only league still in limbo. Three of the most established leagues in North America -the NHL, MLB and NBA- will all be past the four month mark of their pandemic induced break before their scheduled return later this month.
Having not heard much about the Eddies training camp lately, I reached out to Coach and GM Jeff Paulus. Over and above the obvious training camp question came two more obvious questions.
I asked for his thoughts on a single site tournament because every North American league that has announced their return thus far is following that model. I also asked for his opinion about playing in an empty stadium, possibly only a limited amount of fans.
Currently we are in Phase 2 like the other CPL teams and are training with 10 players from 9:00-10:30 then the next 10 players from 11:00-12:30. Our U20 Reserve side also trains everyday from 1:30-3:00 and are already in phase 3 as per provincial guidelines which is driving my first team nuts as they must still socially distance in training.
Single Site Tournament
I do believe we will see some sort of a season in 2020 but at this point have no information from the league on what that will look like. Like everyone else, I am anxiously waiting for some news on when and where we will play and what this is going to look like. I do know that the league is doing their due diligence to ensure that player and staff safety is a priority factor in choosing between their options.
A single site tournament is a good idea if they can maintain some sort of a bubble to ensure that not only are the teams protected but also the local residents of the community we play at.
The time frame is of course important as these events will be tougher on the families at home then they will be for those away. I have lived a life in a hard sea trade while in the navy that had me away from home a lot so while I am used to this, my wife certainly won’t be.
That being said, I would rather be at one location in a safe bubble then having to fly from city to city on commercial airlines!
There are two sides to the question of playing without fans. On one hand the atmosphere will seem more like a preseason friendly than a regular league match but the alternative of not playing is less appealing.
I have read many comments both supporting or not supporting the return of professional sports at this time. I can see the arguments on both sides but in a league such as ours there are many players who will be looking to ensure their contracts for next season and it would be very unfair to them for technical staffs around the league to make personnel decisions without having seen the lads on the pitch.
I feel for our players in this regard as they now are going to have a short window to showcase themselves. This makes this task of preparing the team to play and giving young players a chance to be seen so important for the coaching staffs. So while the lack of fans will pose an interesting scenario that we will have to adapt to, the importance of these games to the players and their careers I think will outweigh that and allow us to simply play football.
Thank you Coach Paulus for your time. One day we will talk about an actual game played. One day hopefully sooner than later.