The Canadian Premier League is revamping its prize structure so both the regular-season and playoff champion are rewarded financially.
Previously only the playoff champion benefited. Commissioner Mark Noonan says, effective immediately, the winner of the regular season will receive a financial reward equal in value to that awarded to the playoff champion.
Noonan declined to detail the prize amount.
"It's long overdue … You need to recognize the importance of the grind of the regular season," said Noonan, who took over as commissioner on Sept. 1.
"We need to recognize the team that over 28 games is first in our table as well as the one that got hot in the playoffs," he added. "In some case they may be one and the same. And like in other great leagues around the country, we can recognize this team won the double. And really make sure that the regular season has as much meaning as the playoffs."
The eight-team league also says it is working on a trophy to honour the regular-season champion. The playoff winner will be awarded the North Star Shield this season, as in past years.
The league says the announcement serves as a "further incentive" for teams competing to win the regular season. Currently the top four teams advance to the playoffs.
"As you get closer and closer to the end of the regular season, teams that have qualified for the playoffs perhaps might put their foot on the brake a little bit and rest players. I think by recognizing our regular-season winner, it's going to give teams incentives to continue playing hard to the end of the season," said Noonan. "So it has a competitive element to it as well."
Noonan said past regular-season winners will be compensated retroactively.
Under its current bargaining agreement Major League Soccer rewards the MLS Cup winner US$300,000 with the runner-up collecting $100,000. Playoff teams collect bonuses that grow the deeper they get into the post-season.
The Supporters' Shield winner earns $220,000 for having the best regular-season record. MLS teams that reach the playoffs also earn bonuses depending on their regular-season finish.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2022.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press