STATEMENT FROM THE CPSL
The following is a statement from the Canadian Professional Soccer League regarding the withdrawal of Ottawa Wizards from the playoffs and CPSL Championship Weekend October 3 - 5
The withdrawal of Ottawa Wizards from the CPSL Championship playoffs announced in a news release by the Ottawa Wizards on October 3, is regrettable and only serves to deprive the players, the club and its supporters, of a well-earned opportunity to win the league championship for which they have been playing all season.
Ottawa Wizards have had a difficult season off the field, with a series of personnel problems involving the general manager, the head coach, both of whom have left the club during a busy time. There have been player disputes.
There has been negative publicity from overseas with respect to monies owing for player transactions.
Add to this, their rejection by the court of an application for an injunction to prevent the Open Canada Cup final games from being played, including the criticism by the court of the hostile manner in which the club has been communicating, has not helped their cause.
Much of what is stated in the news release by Ottawa Wizards with respect to their dissatisfaction of the rules governing the CPSL Championship comes as a surprise to the league.
In general, their statements are untrue and misleading and while the league prefers to deal with these matters privately with the club, their incorrect information is so considerable and now so widely distributed –and adversely affects others outside of the CPSL, we consider it appropriate to set the record straight on some issues.
There was no serious dialogue with Ottawa Wizards regarding the eligibility of players in the Rogers Cup Finals. The league had a director on site during all of the games to ensure proper eligibility. If there is a disagreement with rules, Ottawa Wizards had ample opportunity to submit a proposal for consideration by the member clubs for change. Withdrawing from the competition serves no useful purpose.
The league has received during the past three weeks information that suggested the club would have difficulty fielding an adequate team to compete in the Rogers Cup Finals in London. We have received messages from Ottawa Wizards’ players.
The league chose not to interfere and has not intervened on any player dispute in the time leading up to the finals. We are required to do so now in those instances of player complaints that can be classified as grievances and where there has been a violation of a player’s contract by the club, or by the player.
The criticism by Ottawa Wizards of the London Free Press also does not reflect the truth. The club states the League Administrator is quoted as saying Ottawa Wizards are not looking forward to taking part in the Rogers Cup. In fact, the article provided by the London Free Press quotes Stan Adamson as saying the club is looking forward to playing in the Rogers Cup.
The club is also critical of the London Free Press in not stating the correct comments of Ottawa Wizards following the London City win of the Open Canada Cup.
The London Free Press has stated there was never an interview with any Ottawa Wizards’ person following the London City win of the Open Canada Cup.
The club has said that the OSA rejected an application for Ottawa Wizards to hold a tournament on October 9. The OSA did not deny application to hold the tournament. We understand there was follow-up information required and this was not forthcoming.
With respect to the threat of a lawsuit by the Ottawa Wizards in their release of October 3, the league provides this excerpt and agrees with the findings of the Honourable Justice de Lobe Panet following his study of the dispute with the league and the 4-hour hearing in Ottawa on August 29 to consider the application for a court injunction to prevent the Open Canada Cup Finals from taking place. It is number 15 of 22 sections in the courts decision:
(15) The Ottawa Wizards, as a member team, is entitled to either agree or disagree with the collective decisions made by the League. However, on the evidence before me, whenever the League does not agree with Ottawa Wizards or, in the reverse situations, when the Ottawa Wizards does not agree with the League, the Ottawa Wizards appear to engage in and respond by vitriolic exchanges, threats of lawsuits, threats of damages, threats of fireworks and threats of bringing the league down as the penalty for disagreeing. In my view, those threats, in the circumstances of the League and its operations, are inappropriate.
Vincent Ursini, chairman and president of the Canadian Professional Soccer League, states that the league will continue to be open on any issue that is in doubt with any member club. Also, the league is pleased to provide clarification or an explanation to members of the news media at any time, while having regard for any information that might be considered by the league or a member club being discussed, to be confidential.
October 9, 2021