As you may recall, this past January BC Soccer announced their new BC Regional Tier 3 League (BCRT3) with a call for pre-applications. We were pretty quick with an article to cover some of the highlights that we were able to find in the released documents. Since the initial announcement and a brief interview on Soccer Today with Chris Cerroni, the BC Soccer Director of Soccer Development, any sort of news on the league has been sparse. They re-released their call for for pre-applications on 1 March by reposting their article from mid-January. Many questions have been floated, but other than the interview on Soccer Today, few answers were available.

Information revealed by Chris Cerroni on Soccer Today

From the Soccer Today podcast, we know that the league is very concerned with not having a flash-in-pan, one-off season. They’re actually seeking for clubs to commit to 3-years of operation within the league. Additionally, it was revealed that the goal is for the league to sit below USL’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC II. By aiming for that position, BC Soccer is helping cement a pyramid with USL as 2nd-division, and the provincial league as 3rd. Being directly below VWFC2, also clearly placed the league above USL’s Professional Development League (PDL), the cross-border 4th division league that hosts Victoria Highlanders FC and TSS FC Rovers. It also entrenches it above the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL), a BC-only league that claims to be 4th division but consistently struggles to be considered a serious league, despite (very roughly) claiming lineage back to 1908, even though the present PCSL was spun out from a merged league sometime after 1973.

As for the 3-month season, Cerroni could only say “Let’s not run before we can walk.” He claimed BCRT3 was new territory and experimental. The length of the season could be open to expanding if the league could show consistency from year to year. In many ways, the run-walk analogy was used to respond to most questions: Will BCRT3 be in the Interprovincial Cup? “Let’s not run before we can walk.” Will there be Women’s Sides like in League1 Ontario? “Let’s not run until we can walk.” Everything was left very much with a feeling that this was a going to be a very conservatively run league, taking only a few small steps in its first few years, and leaving larger ambitions for later.

Information from Rob Csabi via E-mail

It took some patience & perseverance, but we were finally able to get a couple of questions answered by Rob Csabi, the BC Soccer Manager of Coaching Development. Rob is also listed as the contact person for BCRT3. Understandably, Csabi was not able to answer most of our queries as the league is still finding franchise applicants, and has yet to hammer out a lot of the details. Here’s the questions we asked, and the answers we received:

Q. Is it possible to have an estimate or count of the number of pre-applications that have already been received, or that are expected to be received by the deadline?

A. “We have had applicants and we will know the final number of entities interested in their bid after March 31st when the deadline closes.  At that point, a selection panel will be responsible to review the applications.”

My Interprepation: Since it was pluralized, we know that more than 1 application received. Probably quite a few more, but there’s no knowing how serious the applications are, or if they’ll meet the league’s requirements. Csabi is (rightfully) being secretive about the number of applications received, which is what we expected. This does confirm that clubs, teams, or potential owners have expressed interest and submitted applications. There’s no word here on what the selection panel will be looking for specifically, which gives BC Soccer & BCRT3 plenty of leeway as they prepare to launch the league.

Q. Will “BC Soccer Regional Tier 3 League” be the official name of the league, or is that just a working name while the league is in the preliminary application stage?

A. “… it has not been determined either way if it will remain as BC Soccer Regional Tier Three League or if it needs to be altered.”

My Interpretation: A hard-hitting question, I know, but it sounds like this is going to depend on the franchises that are approved to start teams in 2018. That’s a great move in my opinion as it will help those founding teams feel ownership & control over a part of the league, allowing them to better rally together as they compete. It’s highly doubtful owners of the calibre required would be satisfied calling the league BCRT3. Far too awkward to say, and not at all descriptive of the product that should be on the field.

Q. Has the league decided whether there will be playoffs similar to L1O & most North American leagues, or if the league champion will be determined by the number of points on the table, similar to PLSQ & most European leagues?

A.  “We do have a play-off system in place in addition to the league standings there is an integrated Cup schedule, please refer to the RT3 Operations Manual and Technical Standards and this section below:”

Section 2. d. BC Soccer RT3 League Cup

An RT3 League Cup competition will be organized each year. The format for the cup competition will be determined annually in coordination with the RT3 Technical Committee, RT3 Ownership Committee and the RT3 League General Manager. Specific to the RT3 Cup, in cases where there is a tie at the end of regulation time then two 15-minute halves of overtime will be played. If the game is still tied after overtime, the result will be decided by penalty kicks.

My Interpretation: This is a big shift from our original thoughts on the league. We had assumed the League Cup being touted in the Operations Manual would be similar to the League Cups in League1 Ontario and Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec. Both of these Canadian Tier 3 leagues have a cup competition that runs throughout the year, with a Cup Champion being crowned. L1O then also has its own playoffs, in contrast to PLSQ which determines the season winner by points. From this reply, Csabi seems to indicate there will be a playoffs at the end of the year for BCRT3, but no separate cup competition throughout.

Questions “Skipped”

Naturally, there were many questions that had to be skipped. Just to show that I did ask other (somewhat more important IMO) questions, they were:

  • With BCRT3 set to complete play in July, does this exclude BCRT3 from the Interprovincial Cup for the time being?

9 Mar 2017 Edit:

With Soccer Canada’s announced expansion to include the L1O & PLSQ champions in the Voyageurs Cup, they have also announced the discontinuation of the Interprovincial Cup. This major change will open up the possibility of BCRT3 participating in 2019, after they’ve crowned their 1st BCRT3 Champion.

  • As both the PDL & PCSL leagues operate at the same time, and draw upon the same NCAA & CIS (now U-sports) players, how will BCRT3 overcome the challenge they pose to the potential BCRT3 player pool?
  • During the growth of League1 Ontario, the PDL teams were given a period of adjustment and then pushed into the league, with the notable exception of K-W United as a result of legal action. Does BCRT3 have similar plans, in the medium-long term, for the current PDL teams in BC? If yes, approximately how long will that adjustment period be?
Other Inquiries

Both PDL’s Victoria Highlanders FC & the PCSL were contacted with a few questions related to the development of BCRT3. Neither provided comment in advance of publication.

The Round-up

There’s still precious little information available concerning BCRT3, but from the answers we were able to receive, we know that things are progressing. With a deadline of March 31st, we can only cross our fingers and hope that more information will be made available as the selection panel begins to review applications. Keep your eyes here on NSXI, for the latest news on BCRT3 as it is released.

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