With COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of the League1 season, FC Oshawa head coach Ron Clarke says all he and his team can do is look to next year.
Over the past summer, Clarke says while League1 was hoping to kick off the soccer season later on in the year, it just wasn’t feasible.
“Unfortunately, because it’s a semi-professional league, we rely on spectators for a little bit of revenue,” he explains. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that within the provincial gathering limits.”
He adds it was also difficult as a provincial league to get each municipality to approve play for their teams.
“So the season was a wash. We couldn’t get it off the ground,” he says.
Going forward, Clarke says the team was able to train this summer, but now most players have returned to their respective universities or colleges.
He adds a few of the newer players who are doing online schooling are remaining in Oshawa, and will continue to train with the reserve team.
“For most of our other players, they’ve all gone back to their schools and are back training with their respective universities,” he says.
In terms of whether or not there will even be a season next year, “only time will tell,” according to Clarke.
“Like everything else right now, if gathering sizes go back to normal, if we’re allowed to play out of our region, then I would say yes, but we will probably wait and see and probably won’t know more until after the new year,” he explains.
If there is no season next year, Clarke notes there will need to be changes made to League1, and he isn’t sure the league could handle another season lost.
“Obviously, that’s not what we want to do, but just like any other business, I don’t think anybody can withstand a second shutdown,” he says.
Right now, everything is up in the air, as teams need to look at their finances, and pay attention to COVID-19 guidelines.
Ultimately, Clarke says the decision comes down to the Canadian Professional Soccer League, which owns League1.
Heading into next season, Clarke says they will continue to keep tabs on their players, and will continue to work with the younger players, while keeping in touch with everyone on the team.
However, the priority heading into next season is the safety of the players.
“If we can’t play in a safe environment, then we won’t play,” he says, adding players will be tested prior to re-entering the League1 bubble, and will do self assessments in order to do contact tracing.