The Canadian Premier League's eight teams will play a shortened 2020 season in Charlottetown, league commissioner David Clanachan confirmed Wednesday.
The professional league, in its second season, was supposed to begin play in April but the season was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The new shortened season, which is being dubbed the Island Games, will begin Aug. 13 at the University of Prince Edward Island.
"We're going to become visitors on the Island for the better part of two months and we're much much looking forward to it," Clanachan said.The eight teams in the league are the HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax), Atlético Ottawa, York9 FC (York Region, near Toronto), Forge FC (Hamilton), Valour FC (Winnipeg), FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC (Calgary) and Pacific FC (Greater Victoria).
Players and staff, about 300 in total that include some from Europe and Mexico, are currently self-isolating in their teams' home cities, Clanachan said.
They have been tested once for coronavirus and all results came back negative, he said. They will be tested again before they come and twice when they arrive on P.E.I. Aug. 8, he said.
When they arrive on P.E.I., they self-isolate for five days, Clanachan said. They will be staying at the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown, one team per floor.
I'm sure [Islanders]will respect the fact that we've put a lot of work into it and we're doing it the right way. — David Clanachan, Canadian Premier League commissioner
P.E.I. has had 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19. All are considered recovered. Clanachan said he realizes Islanders may be wary about 300 people coming into the province, but said the league has put protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of Island residents and CPL staff alike.
"I think Islanders, they'll probably debate it — sometimes in the pub, sometimes in the restaurants — but I'm sure they will respect the fact that we've put a lot of work into it and we're doing it the right way."
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The season will begin with each team playing each other once. The top four teams will advance to a second-round group phase. The top two clubs out of the group stage will then play a single match to determine the championship at a date in September to be announced later. The champion will be awarded the North Star Shield and a 2021 CONCACAF league berth.
All games will be played in a sequestered environment outside without fans.
All matches will be broadcast exclusively via the Canadian Premier League's media partner OneSoccer.
Langford, B.C., and Moncton had also been in the running to host the CPL season.
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Many local businesses, the government of P.E.I. and the City of Charlottetown lobbied to have the league come to the Island.
"We believe Prince Edward Island is the best place in the country to safely host the Canadian Premier League and we are so proud to receive this special opportunity," said P.E.I. Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Minister Matthew MacKay in a news release.
"In these uncertain times, we are committed to doing everything we can to stimulate our provincial economy while following the mandated public health protocols, and market our Island as a premier travel destination so that when the time is right, we can welcome visitors to Prince Edward Island."
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