2018 is promising to shake things up in Canada’s soccer world. We’ve had rumours circling for quite some time about the Canadian Premier League, and with BC Soccer announcing the creation of their BC Regional Tier 3 League (BCRT3), that’s a whole pile of new teams that need to be built. With BC looking at building teams for 2 new leagues, questions have circled concerning the current leagues in the area: PDL & PCSL. Although still waiting on a reply from the PCSL, we did receive word back from Victoria Highlanders FC’s Marvin Diercks and TSS FC Rovers’ William Cromack.
Rovers are new on the PDL scene, with 2017 being their 1st year on the field. Naturally, as a new team, they’re tied into contract with the league. Despite this, they’ve been asked about moving to BCRT3 a couple times since news of the league came out. Generally, the reply has been the same:
— TSS FC Rovers (@TSSRovers) March 22, 2017
Although TSS Academy has been around for quite some time, the new PDL franchise is a high point for the club. Being freshly added to this level of competition, they declined to make any comments on the new BCRT3 beyond statements that echo the above tweet.
Marvin Diercks, Victoria Highlanders’ GM, was able to provide some additional details. First, in regards to switching to BCRT3: “It is a fact that we have no interest in the BCRT3 at this time and will not be applying.” Furthermore, Diercks “know[s] of no other group in Victoria that are preparing a bid,” which pretty soundly debunks the theory that there would be a Victoria-based team at league launch in 2018. Although still possible for another side to form, “two teams playing in the summer months vying for sponsorship, fan support and the best players would be very difficult for both teams and, in my opinion, unworkable.”
No bridges are being burned by Highlanders as this doesn’t mean that Victoria will never have a team in BCRT3. Diercks “applaud[s] the work of BCSA and in particular President Kjeld Brodsgaard for their efforts to advance the game in Canada and British Columbia” and says they will be monitoring the BCRT3 as it develops, but for now, “PDL is the best option.” Dierck’s statement also casts doubt on the rumours of Highlanders shooting up the pyramid and joining the Canadian Premier League, at least on launch. With both TSS FC Rovers and Victoria Highlanders FC confirming their intention to remain in the PDL for the foreseeable future, fans of either team can look forward to several years of head-to-head competition as each seeks to win the Juan de Fuca Plate, and, of course, the PDL championship.
With TSS at Swangard, the creation of a BCRT3 team in Burnaby is doubtful. There are plenty of other municipalities nearby that could support a team in the fledgling league, but with the PDL side laying claim to that particular stadium, there will be questions about venues. Similarly, with Victoria eliminated as a host of a BCRT3 team in the immediate future, we need to ask if there will be any teams on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is a possibility, but what stadiums are suitable, could they afford the plane or ferry to all their away matches, and who would foot the bill for any stadium upgrades that may be needed? Residents of Nanaimo recently voted down borrowing funds for a new hockey arena that was guaranteed to host a new WHL team, which shows their lack of appetite for spending.
BC Soccer’s pre-application closed on 31 March, so we should have an idea soon which cities have been targeted by potential owners. The league is aiming to start with 8 franchises, so it will be interesting where these roll out. At this time, we can only wait and see what happens.