BC Soccer RT3: New Division-3 coming to BC

In 2013, the Canada Soccer Association (CSA) was presented with the Easton Report which encouraged the CSA to develop a series of regionalized Division 3 semi-pro leagues. The regional champions were to compete in a national tournament. This recommendation strengthened Quebec’s new league, Première Ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ) which was founded in 2012. It also led to the sanctioning of League1 Ontario (L1O), which began play in 2014. Although rumours of other regional leagues have circled for several years, nothing else appeared to be on the horizon.

In February 2015, we got a little excited when it was announced that people from BC Soccer were present at an L1O team announcement & news conference. Other than a few brief words about how impressed they were and hoped to learn from L1O, there was no word on a prospective league in British Columbia. Even as recently as September, there was nothing official:

Change finally came last night when, in a surprise announcement, BC Soccer both announced there would be a 3rd Division, and that it would launch in 2018. Although this puts the launch the same year as the still-rumoured Canadian Premier League, it is a very necessary step for the sport in British Columbia. Yesterday’s announcement included a basic information package, an operations manual, and a pre-application form. Having combed through the documents, here’s some of the most important information for potential fans.

BC Soccer refers to the league as Regional Tier 3 (BCRT3), and the season will run from May through July. This is a similar season length as PDL. Additionally, there will be a Cup competition, similar to L1O & PLSQ. From the operations manual, there does not appear to be any playoffs. This means the winner will be determined based upon total number of points, much like PLSQ. This could change once the league launches if the team locations help create conferences, but they’re still looking for teams at this point.

Cities highlighted as potential locations for teams by BC Soccer.

For the actual matches, we’re looking at 2 standard 45-minute halves. The game day roster can contain a maximum of 3 foreign players. Additionally, there must be a minimum of 8 U-23 players on the game-day roster per team. Additionally, at least 4 starters per team must be U-23. The last day for player transfers will be June 30th, effectively freezing the roster for Canada Day. During a match, there will be a maximum of 5 substitutions per team. Only minutes ago, BC Soccer confirmed that it will not be a semi-pro league:

Coaches & assistant coaches have some growing licencing requirements as well. The head coach can have a B-National license in 2018 & 2019, but starting 2020 they must upgrade to an A license. Assistant coaches can start with a B-Provincial license in 2018 & 2019, but must upgrade to a B-National license for 2020. This is great news as it demonstrates that BC Soccer is looking to increase the quality of the coaches & the team quickly to get it up to the same level as L1O & PLSQ. There is no official word yet on if/how BCRT3 will join up with the D3-Interprovincial Cup, but I’m sure they’re far more focused on just getting up and running at this point.

The information is still fresh, and there’s a lot more to the documents including potential cash-flow projections, ownership net worth requirements, and even what minimum front office staff must exist and must be paid. Interested parties have until March 31st, 2017 to submit their pre-application to BC Soccer. It will be interesting to see who steps forward to be a part of the new league, and whether CSA will force Victoria Highlanders FC & TSS FC Rovers to move over from the PDL as it did for teams in Ontario & Quebec.

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Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray is an experienced author who has previously published articles on transit, cycling & politics. With a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree, a Bachelor of Education degree, an Event Management graduate certificate, and two years of Business Administration, his education has helped him connect with a variety of people, through numerous industries. In 2014, he was a Team Lead in the Club Section of TD Place, where the Ottawa Fury host matches. Now located in Victoria, British Columbia, Gray enjoys the local PDL matches, and tries to watch his favourite clubs online with his infant son whenever possible.

7 thoughts on “BC Soccer RT3: New Division-3 coming to BC

  • January 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

    My biggest concern is that BSCA control who enters. We do NOT need another century of “Vancouver Croatia” vs “Vancouver Khalsa” versus “Vancouver Religious Crusaders”, which is what the PCSL has wrong-headedly allowed to persist, and which has prevented soccer from creating a supporters culture (like that of BCHL junior hockey, WLA lacrosse, or junior football) for a century. The clubs involved should be inclusive and local, and spread about the province and especially the Lower Mainland (ie not concentrated in central Vancouver). The only “ethnic” label on any of the clubs should be “Canadian”, “British Columbian”, or the local city or region that the club services (Island, Valley, etc). The clubs should be ONLY about soccer, and not part of some wider ethnic, religious, or other organisation or agenda.

    There needs to be one team from each major urban area (Nanaimo 100k, Victoria 350k, Vancouver 600k, Richmond 300k (with Delta), North Van 200k, Burnaby 300k, Coquitlam 300k (with Maple Ridge), Surrey 475k, Abbottsford 200k, and Kelowna 165k). These teams should NOT be from just one local rec club, but should sit atop complete community pyramids of youth, mens, and womens soccer.

    • Shawn Gray
      January 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      I agree with most of what you’re saying here Drew. I would like to see some smaller centres launch teams as well though. The information packet outlined a number of small cities I wouldn’t have thought of, but if the team is “the only show in town” it could do quite well. Prince George could probably pull from several clubs, but the pickings will be slimmer for Courtney, Penticton, Campbell River, and Walnut Grove (though I imagine Walnut Grove could pull from the surrounding area).

      I fully agree that we shouldn’t see any ethnic labels, though I would add first people’s ethnic labels to the “Canadian” and “British Colombian” exceptions if there is an appropriately skilled group that would like to field a team. I would actually love to see this sort of inclusion, though I’m unsure if a skilled enough squad could be formed.

      This article was kind of just to touch on some of the key points from the documents. I’ve a lot of issues with this launch (beyond the working name of the league). Small stadium requirements 400+, huge losses unless there’s 2k+ attendance, short 3 month season… A lot of things that I hope will change before the actual league launch. At the moment, I see no reason for either PDL-side to want to switch to BCRT3, or even for any PCSL side the way things are laid out. It feels like BCSA is hoping to attract too little interest to run, just so they can say “we tried” and throw it away. Expect a couple follow-up articles if I get replies to my email.

      • January 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        There are not enough quality players to water this down to Penticton, or Cranbrook, or Comox Valley. Smaller places are restricted by player quality and distance to playing in local leagues.
        Some of the cities listed above are useless as a basis for clubs, and many of the numbers are off. “Walnut Grove” is irrelevant, and part of greater Langley anyway, as White Rock is within Surrey. If you get out a map of the Fraser Valley, the 2.5 million people there divide into North Van (200k), Vancouver (600k), Richmond/Delta (300k), Burnaby/New West (300K), Coquitlam-Map Ridge (300k), Surrey (475k), Langley (125k), Abbottsford (200k), and Chilliwack (90k). Of those, Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Abbottsford are the vital parts in an eight or ten team league. On the Island it can only be Victoria and Nanaimo. In the interior, I doubt Kamloops could support a team, and Prince George cannot. Distance, travel, and player pool dictate that Kelowna is the only realistic place for one such interior team. This has to be accessible for the U-23 players as well as the fans.

        I hope you are not correct about “we tried, didn’t work”!!! I hope this doesn’t turn into a conflict between the (now two) PDL teams and the BCSA.

        • Shawn Gray
          January 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm

          Your area groupings definitely make sense. I do hold out some hope for a Prince George team though. It would be phenomenal to see one team out of Northern BC so as to avoid L1O’s issue of being a Southern-province league only.

          I truly hope I’m wrong on the “we tried, didn’t work” assessment. I’m also hoping that we don’t see the PDL teams shoehorned over. They need to WANT to move over, not be forced into it.

  • February 5, 2017 at 7:44 am

    It makes me so happy to see soccer in Canada finally getting its feet grounded I think this will become a success as it is here in Ontario, and in Quebec. With the introduction of the Canadian Premier League (hopefully in 2018) Canadian kids finally have a place to grow their skills and strengthen the national team.

    • Shawn Gray
      February 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

      I know I’ve got my fingers crossed that BCRT3 will be come a success (and CanPL too of course). The biggest concern is the short season. Unlike L1O & PLSQ, they’re only going to have a short 3-month season, which doesn’t really provide any benefit over the existing PDL & PCSL seasons. Theoretically we will see a higher level of play, but that all depends on how this league rolls out. It’s definitely something we’re watching as we wait for more news.

      • February 5, 2017 at 5:55 pm

        Baby steps…I know I myself would love to see a whole spring, summer, and fall for BCRT3 (maybe they should look at the NASL Spring-Fall type season). I would also love to see other provinces take the initiative (Alberta, Sask, Manitoba and East Coast) and develop their own grassroots Division 3 and bridge CanPL with a Division 2 league. But that I believe is too forward thinking for now at least.

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