CSL has expansion dreams

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Canadian Soccer League commissioner Cary Kaplan unveiled aggressive plans for his league yesterday.

Kaplan shocked onlookers at the annual CSL kick-off media conference by announcing that he hopes to expand his 17-team league by 13 more teams, including at least six in western Canada -- most likely Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Red Deer.

As well, he hopes to add franchises in Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Kitchener and plans to expand the league's International Division.

The International Division currently includes four teams based in the Toronto area, the Italia Shooters, Portugal FC, Toronto Croatia and defending CSL champions, the Serbian White Eagles. Kaplan said clubs such as Korea FC, Africa and Greece may be added in the near future.

"The International Division has been called controversial," said Kaplan. "But Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world and in this city, it works perfectly."

Kaplan said he sees the CSL, the only all-Canadian professional soccer league, expanding to 20 teams in the GTA alone. He added that there are two or three teams ready to join now, but he doesn't want to expand until there are six clubs absolutely ready to begin operations.

Kaplan said another goal is for the CSL champion to be invited to compete in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, joining Toronto FC of the MLS and the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer Leagues in the tournament (Vancouver is slated to join the MLS in 2011).

As well, Rogers TV announced plans yesterday to broadcast a CSL game of the week this season, mostly on Saturday nights.


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