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Noonan says Canadian Soccer Business has no need to apologize, continues to grow game

Mark Noonan Mark Noonan - The Canadian Press

Canadian Soccer Business, which represents Canada Soccer's corporate partnerships and broadcast rights among other assets, took its lumps this year.

Politicians clamoured to see the contract between the two. Players complained that the CSB deal with the governing body of Canadian soccer is holding the game back and preventing national teams from getting the kind of preparation they need.

Mark Noonan, who doubles as CEO of Canadian Soccer Business and commissioner of the Canadian Premier League, not surprisingly disagrees.

He points to Christine Sinclair's farewell international game Dec. 5, a 1-0 win over Australia at B.C. Place Stadium before a bumper crowd of 48,112.

While Canadian national team games are usually streamed only on OneSoccer, TSN also showed the Sinclair swansong.

"That was 100 per cent orchestrated by Canadian Soccer Business," said Noonan.

CSB got the rights from Mediapro and stuck a deal with TSN and Canada Soccer.

"In a perfect world, TSN would pay a rights fee to Mediapro. They weren't willing to do that," said Noonan.

"We gave them a fully produced game at no cost," he added. "They enhanced it a little bit and they put on their network. … They have a big platform and to send off the greatest Canadian soccer player in the right way was really important to anybody who's involved in the game.

"For us it was the right thing to do. So we figured out a way to get that done."

CSB, which shares the same ownership as the Canadian Premier League, was announced in March 2018 as "a new sports enterprise representing commercial assets and inventory for marquee soccer properties in Canada.''

It represents corporate partnerships and broadcast rights for the women's and men's national team programs, all commercial assets of the CPL, the Canadian Championship and Canadian soccer grassroots programs.

Canada Soccer, which does not hold an ownership stake in CSB, is believed to receive some $4 million a year currently under the deal as "the beneficiary of a rights fee guarantee.'' That amount has been boosted by some $500,000 each year leading up to the 2026 World Cup.

Noonan says talks continue with Canada Soccer over possibly amending the agreement.

"We hope with the new leadership (at Canada Soccer) we can really continue to work on the relationship … We continue to play a role as the growth engine of soccer in this country," Noonan said.

"We've been unfairly criticized by people who have other agendas … We're not apologizing any more," he added. "We've been punched in the face unfairly."


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2023.