August 10, 2018

Canadian Premier League owners ready for launch

New professional soccer league slated to include eight Canadian cities in inaugural season

Home field for Dean Shillington’s Pacific FC will be Langford’s Westhills Stadium | Rob Kruyt

A new professional soccer league that is readying to launch next spring has owners who are as eager to improve the calibre of Canada’s national soccer team as they are to turn a profit.

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) has confirmed seven teams so far, including one that has Vancouver-based owners and is readying to play its 14 home games, and some Canadian Championship games, in the Victoria suburb of Langford.

Other teams will be based in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Metro Toronto and Halifax. An eighth team will likely be announced later this month to round out the league’s batch of inaugural franchises, commissioner David Clanachan told Business in Vancouver.

One league requirement is that at least 50% of all teams’ 22- or 23-man rosters be Canadian. Half of all players on the field must also be Canadian, Clanachan said.

With the average player salary likely to be around $40,000, the new league is intended to fill a gap whereby Canadian soccer players who are in their late teens or early 20s have a place to play professionally and develop if they do not get into Major League Soccer or any other professional league.

All Vancouver Whitecaps players are paid at least US$54,500, and the team’s highest-paid player, Kei Kamara, makes US$1 million.

“What many people don’t understand is that there is a lot of Canadian talent that drops off because there is no pathway,” Clanachan said.

Clanachan and entrepreneurs such as Langford’s Pacific FC co-owner Dean Shillington believe there is pent-up countrywide demand for affordable soccer games as family entertainment.

After all, they say, soccer is the world’s most-played sport, it has the highest participation rate among sports in Canada and the proliferation in streaming services has made it easier than ever for fans to follow soccer leagues worldwide.

The CPL has yet to sign TV-broadcast or streaming-service deals, but Clanachan said that is likely to come.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from non-traditional broadcasters and from the traditional broadcasters in Canada, which are Rogers [TSX:RCI.B] and Bell Media [TSX:BCE],” he said.

“The next generation is streaming far more than watching traditional broadcasting, so that landscape is changing.”

Some sponsors may come on board in part because the CPL has a partnership with Canada Soccer, and there could be opportunities to have brands at events featuring league teams and Canada’s national soccer team.

CPL team owners are required to ante up what Clanachan said is “more than $1 million” as an entry fee, and that investment also buys an equal stake in the league. All ownership groups also have to pass a financial stress test.

Shillington, who is president of Vancouver’s Knightsbridge Capital and an owner of Caffè Artigiano, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and business owner. He is joined, as an equal-partner owner of Pacific FC, by Josh Simpson and Rob Friend, who each played professional soccer in Europe and for Canada’s national team.

“Investing in a sports team is not my MO,” Shillington said.

“I’m traditionally a very conservative investor. The businesses that I have are based on that premise, but the way this league has been structured, it is able to be viable on Day 1.”

He considered basing the team in a number of different B.C. communities and had discussions with representatives from cities such as Surrey.

The decision to go to Langford, however, was in part because the city was willing to renovate and expand its Westhills Stadium, by April, to accommodate more than 6,000 people. Ticket prices are likely to start in the $20 range.

If the anticipated fans flock to the venue for the games, Shillington said Langford has agreed to a second expansion to increase stadium seating to more than 10,000.

He may still invest in founding a team in Surrey, but that reality would depend in part on the success of the league and of his team in Langford.

Many details of the new league have yet to be finalized, including its salary cap for players. Shillington wants it to be less than $1 million. A separate salary cap would likely be in effect for coaching staff.

“We want all the clubs to have responsible owners and not have one go out and spend a lot of money to start an arms race of player signings,” he said.

“The key, as a business guy, is for this league to be around in 20 years, 50 years or 100 years. The owners have to be on the same page and to grow the league responsibly in time.” •



Channel something wonderful by visiting the Channel Islands

Islands off Normandy coast offer unique experience

St. Anne’s, the only town on Alderney, offers a peaceful street view | Photos: Mike Grenby

Chicken tractors, blonde hedgehogs and church bell-ringers, renovated wartime bunkers you can rent for $85 a year to use as a vacation home, the world’s first Dark Sky Island – you are about to visit the Channel Islands.

 “What? Where?” you ask.

The Channel Islands, which sort of belong to Britain although they also have their own banknotes, health system and so on, are just off the Normandy coast of France. And they offer travel experiences you probably won’t find in a single place anywhere else.

I didn’t get to Jersey, but here are some highlights from the four other islands.

Guernsey. A recent movie, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on a fiction book with the same name, told about life during the Second World War when the Channel Islands became the only part of Britain the Germans occupied.

The German Occupation Museum has notices translated from German into English, bringing home the reality of war when you read the poster telling that Louis Berrier released a pigeon with a message for England and was shot.

The same fate befell Francois Scornet, who fled France bound for England's Isle of Wight but landed on Guernsey by mistake.

You see Red Cross food parcels sent from Canada and New Zealand, with brands that still appear familiar today.

I stayed at the ideally located Fermain Valley Hotel, about an hour’s picturesque hike along the cliffs into the main town of St. Peter Port yet only a few minutes’ drive – and the hotel offers transfers or lifts around the island.

Native gardens bracket the hotel above and below. A 10-minute walk down the valley (about 20 minutes back up) connects you with Fermain Bay – beach and coffee shop. A very large flagon of sherry awaits your return to your room, plus indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the lower gardens and valley.

Just before I left Guernsey I took the plunge (figuratively not literally considering the ocean was 12 degrees) and climbed on a jetski for the first time.

JP’s Jetski Seafaris made it clear there was quite a bit more than just jumping on and zooming off.

After training on land and then, cautiously, in the Guernsey harbour, JP and I set off.  He appeared impressed when finally I dared to go faster than 10km/h.

In contrast to Guernsey, almost all of Alderney’s population was evacuated to England days before the German troops arrived.

The island has been fortified since Roman times 5,000 years ago, most recently by the Germans many of whose renovated bunkers can now be rented for about $85 a year for a seafront holiday home.

Alderney is big enough to have some excellent restaurants yet small enough to enjoy the quiet charm and slow pace of a country island.

It isn’t big enough to offer a topless bus tour. But John’s minibus tour was a great way to get a sense of the island, both present and past.

When the daylight fades, it’s time for a bat and hedgehog walk around town with Roland Gauvain, an expert from the Alderney Wildlife Trust.

First we saw the bats, then one hedgehog scuttled across the road. Ronald went into a garden (presumably of an acquaintance) where we got a closer flashlight look at a briefly stationary hedgehog.

The next day I was invited to meet the dedicated St. Anne’s Church bell-ringers. If you ask nicely at the Alderney Visitors’ Bureau I’m sure you could be given a contact which could also lead to a visit to the next bell-ringing session.

I climbed up into the church loft where 12 ropes hung down attached to the bells in the appropriately named church belfry.

How fascinating to watch the bell-ringers – sometimes six, sometimes all 12 – pulling on the ropes at just the right time to create the melody.


On Alderney, discover 60-year-old London Underground carriages. - photo supplied Mike Grenby

The next day it was time to meet Molly, Molly 2, J.T. Daly, Elizabeth, the Yankees, 1044 and 1045 – major train engine and carriage players in the story of the Alderney Railway, the only operating railway on the Channel Islands.

The first official passengers, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were carried on Aug. 8, 1854.

After a train ran off the end of the breakwater into the sea, all locomotives - Molly, Molly 2, J.T. Daly and Elizabeth - had to carry life jackets. The Yankees were side-tipping wagons.

The train started to carry passengers in 1980, using retired London Underground carriages. The first two died of salt air corrosion, but their 1959 replacements, 1044 and 1045, are still going strong almost 60 years later – wooden floors, aluminum bodies and all.

The train runs from Braye Beach to near the Alderney Lighthouse, where the Alderney Wildlife Trust offers guided tours up the spiral staircase. The large foghorn is now silent, and the original light has been replaced by modern lighting.

Although smaller than Guernsey’s, Alderney’s Museum is also worth seeing – as are the three videos made of life before, during and after the German occupation. Ask at the Visitors Centre or Wildlife Trust Office about viewing possibilities.

A perfect spot to catch all the downtown action along the main street in Alderney’s only town of St. Anne is the Victoria Hotel, located at the bottom of Victoria Street.

(I use the term “action” rather loosely: the single lane Victoria Street runs for almost three blocks up a gentle hill, and is often blocked when a vehicle stops to make a delivery or to enable a driver-pedestrian chat. Yet during my stay I didn’t hear a single car horn.)

Guests at the Victoria Hotel get five per cent off their bill at sister Georgian House Restaurant, across the road and up a bit.

As well as the varied and included breakfast at the Victoria Hotel, other restaurants I enjoyed included the Georgian House (meal-sized appetizers, garden view from upstairs), Le Pesked (best French onion soup ever), Cantina6 (thin crust pizza with just the right amount of topping, book early for small outside deck), Bumps (perfectly cooked scallops), St. Anne’s Guest House (afternoon tea, home-baked sweet treats), Braye Beach Hotel (bar scene, quiet dining room, outside deck), Jack’s (sit on the deck for main street action) – see my TripAdvisor reviews for more details.

When traffic congestion is defined as "horse-drawn carriage meets two tractors" on this car-free island you know you've come to a peaceful place.

And when chickens take over the job of tractors (although naturally on a smaller scale), you can expect permaculture to set the scene for healthy eating.

Chicken tractors (for those who have never heard of them, and that included me until my visit to Stocks Hotel’s permaculture garden) are like portable chicken coops which you move from one part of the garden to the next, allowing the chickens to scratch in the dirt, eat the insects and fertilize the ground with their manure...the perfect organic cycle.


If inclined, why not rent a former German war bunker for a waterfront holiday on Alderney? - photo supplied Mike Grenby

Dine at Stocks indoors or outdoors from morning to night on the results of the chickens' efforts - whether their eggs or the fruit and vegetables their tractoring helps to produce. And if you like a drop of something, check out the hotel's Smugglers' Bar with one of the larger selection of drops to choose from.

To explore the island you can walk, ride a rental bike or let Charlie ("leave the driving to me!") take you in Stocks' own horse and carriage for a personally guided tour to historic buildings and monuments, and to secluded beaches

Once it gets dark and, if the skies are clear, discover the reason why Sark was named the world's first Dark Sky Island by the International Dark-Sky Association, as you see the Milky Way and sky full of other stars vividly.           

This tiny island has only 60 permanent residents, also no cars but some cows.

Nature provides the main reason most people visit Herm – hiking around and across the island to visit the beaches and bays, to appreciate the wild beauty of the cliffs, to spot wildlife from colourful insects to a pheasant in a field, to appreciate the wildflowers and grasses – and also to stay in a cottage or camp in a tent, to dine at one of the three restaurants, to shop in the very large souvenir store.

Several daily 20-minute ferry crossings connect Herm with Guernsey.

Weather willing, all the Channel Islands are accessible from England (and France) by air and sea.

Mike Grenby is a travel writer who teaches journalism at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast –

North Shore News


What are we reading? August 9, 2018


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Next up on the energy menu: ‘vegan’ electricity. - Power Technology


With a second course of wind and solar power, the world has now reached a milestone one terawatt capacity. - BusinessGreen


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

One map shows why Trump's trade war with China could be a disaster for average Americans. – Business Insider


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Trump’s tariff tiff triggers terminations. One of the first casualties in Donald Trump’s tariff war with China is an electronics company in South Carolina, which is laying off 126 workers. - CNN Money


A cure worse than the disease? Averting climate change catastrophe has scientists seriously investing geoengineering to cool the climate. But one approach – replicating the cooling that occurs naturally from a massive volcanic eruption – could have some serious impacts on agriculture. - The Atlantic


“Canada’s democratic government will likely be here long after MBS falls from power, and the anachronistic House of Saud as well.” An interesting and informative piece on Saudi Arabia, the Machiavellian Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his aggressive attempts at social and economic reform, and the risky political game he is playing. - Daily Oil Bulletin


Carrie Schmidt, editorial researcher:

Tokyo medical school admits changing results to exclude women.

“I ignored my parents, who said women don’t belong in academia, and got into the best university in Japan. But in job interviews I’m told ‘If you were a man, we’d hire you right away.’ My enemy wasn’t my parents, but all society itself.”- The Guardian


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Here’s an interesting look at the Chinese government’s increasing acceptance of tourism, both welcoming travellers from abroad and allowing more Chinese to travel internationally. It also notes how the government sometimes uses restrictions on tourism as a political sanction. – Travel Weekly


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

A giant shipment of U.S. soya beans has been circling off the coast of China for more than a month. Even at $12,500 a day, it makes some financial sense to keep the goods at sea – they face a 25% tariff if they come to shore. - The Guardian


Here’s another implication of the U.S.-China trade dispute: fish caught in the U.S. and shipped to China for processing could face U.S. tariffs when they re-enter America. If President Trump’s latest tariffs move ahead, this would apply to $900 million worth of seafood. - The Wall Street Journal [May be behind a paywall]


Albert Van Santvoort, reporter:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reevaluating its thoughts on the Euro. This story highlights how the IMF came to realize the inherent problems with a currency union not backed by political or treasury unions. The story cites a report that describes how Greece’s austerity measures exacerbated the economic problems rather than fixing them. -The Telegraph


Greece is not the only European economy that has seen negative economic effects from its austerity policy. The New York Times reports how Portugal is experiencing an economic revival after defying critics and doing away with deficit reduction and austerity policies. By discarding cost cutting policies the country was able to boost its economic growth to 2.7%. - The New York Times


Many have pointed to the U.S.’s second quarter GDP growth as evidence of a strong economy. However a deeper look into the numbers dispels this notion. This washington post piece does a deep dive into the U.S.’s economic numbers and finds that consumer debt among the poorest is fueling growth. -The Washington Post


Campaign trail tips for B.C.’s rookie municipal election hopefuls

I am in possession of a few tips.

It isn’t as if I have been asked for them. Nor necessarily will I be. But when I ran for the mayoralty in 2014, I learned much about candidacy and campaigning. As I see the race today of mostly first-timers – and no municipal campaigners of much experience – I think I have a few tidbits to impart.

First off, beware of your bubble. You will have no trouble meeting people who already like you – some will cling to you like barnacles – but it will be hard work to meet people you want to like you. Chances are, if you’re not in at least one room of people daily whom you must win over, then you are unlikely in the hunt for the job. Your bubble will pop.

Second, be confident about your stamina. When I ran for office I didn’t get a chance to run for pleasure. I lost weight and gained fat. My blood pressure amped up. When we reviewed my campaign to file our finances, we realized that I’d participated in 469 events over about four months – not including the life-shortening beers, wines and coffees with fellow party candidates. If you’re out of shape now, you are in trouble, because in the weeks ahead it only gets more difficult. Your days need to start at 7 a.m. and end no earlier than 10 p.m. to give you a chance. Are you ready?

Third, related to point two: self-care. A former mayor told me to book several events in my calendar as “meetings,” when in fact it was to exercise, decompress, nap or hang with the family and friends. It is nearly impossible to be “on” at all times, so have a batch of friends with whom you can just be yourself and not the candidate.

Fourth, be sanguine about your value. Know that to some seeming supporters, particularly the professional organizers, you are more or less just the latest piece of meat. Their alliance might be predicated on an eventual favour, a position or a contract. And if you value integrity, make no commitment. (I’ve already heard there are some pending.) You will have some terrific people around you, but consider victory as the starting line and not the finish line. Keep your options open on whom you will meet once you’ve won, not just who committed to that win. In other words, two can play this game.

Fifth, any effort to articulate a platform has to first communicate values. In the queue of priorities, few successful campaigns are launched without a first focus on candidates’ values – their authentic beliefs, the foundation of their narrative, what matters and what doesn’t, how events shaped who they are, why they want to lead and how. Ideas and a platform are important but rarely connect if values haven’t already.

Sixth, successful politics is like successful advertising, in that it finds a simple way to communicate complexity and works when it’s repeated to the point of personal nausea. Among the many mistakes I made was in trying to find new ways to say the same thing, even when the audience was different. I was thinking more like a journalist than an advertiser. You’re far better off connecting with an audience – and boring your handlers – with a well-honed message that is rehearsed like a fine piece of standup comedy or a violin solo. It is too acrobatic to find variations on the theme, tempting as it is to not drive yourself crazy.

Seventh, the media will matter a little less than you think. Sure, a gaffe can kill your candidacy, but a great profile or nice commentary about you isn’t going to deliver the mayoralty. Media flattery matters little.

Eighth, there are only two essential, hard-working ingredients in victory: identifying your vote and getting it out on election day, and an organization is required to do that.

Ninth: yes, there are social media to help, but nothing beats the wildfire of meeting people and using them as mavens to tell others. Great tweets and posts do not rival a great speech – even in a small room – that spreads the word.

Tenth: last but not least, have a profound reason to do this. Surprising numbers of candidates can’t answer the question of why; they’re better at answering how. The quality of your reason will become the quality of your administration.

You’re welcome. 

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver Media Group and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.