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The Canadian Premier League’s ninth franchise will kick off next spring in Langley, B.C.

The league announced in November that a Vancouver-area team was next. On Wednesday, suburban Langley and Willoughby Community Park were revealed as the expansion franchise’s home.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Township of Langley and Metro Vancouver into the CPL family,” said CPL executive vice-president Glen Johnson.

“The popularity and excitement surrounding soccer in Canada has never been greater. Having a Canadian professional club playing at Willoughby Community Park will be a key driver in the development of Canadian talent in the region. It will also open the door to many new and exciting opportunities for the region’s passionate soccer community.”

Langley, a township that is home to some 145,000 residents, is located some 45 kilometres southeast of Vancouver.

The Vancouver-area franchise is the CPL’s first addition since Atletico Ottawa joined in 2020.

The new team is owned by SixFive Sports & Entertainment LP, a Canadian-based investment fund whose principals are involved in the ownership of CPL champion Pacific FC, which plays in Langford on Vancouver Island.

SixFive Sports is a global football fund “‘seeking investments in high growth markets, under-managed European clubs, and distressed or turnaround opportunities.”

SixFive’s general partners are former Canadian internationals Rob Friend and Josh Simpson, investment entrepreneur Dean Shillington and Starlight Investments, a privately held Toronto-based real estate investment and asset management company.

The SixFive name comes from Friend’s and Shillington’s height.

Shillington is president of the Knightsbridge Capital Group and owns Caffe Artigiano, which has branches in B.C. and Alberta.

Simpson won 43 caps for Canada while Friend earned 32.

Simpson played his club football for England’s Millwall, Germany’s FC Kaiserlautern, Turkey’s Manisaspor and Switzerland’s BSC Young Boys. He retired in 2015 in the wake of a badly broken leg.

Originally drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2003, Friend opted to go to Europe and played in Norway for Moss FK and Molde FK and in the Netherlands with SC Heerenveen and Heracles Almelo. He then embarking on a successful stretch in Germany, with Borussia Moenchengladbach, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and TSV 1860 Munchen.

He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in January 2014 but retired later that year, at the age of 33, after missing more than five months of action due to concussion-related problems.

Friend is also co-founder and partner in the DRG Investment Group along with Simpson.

Simpson is also co-founder and partner in Von Schwanau Invest AG, a Swiss-based international real estate investment group.

The current CPL teams are HFX Wanderers FC, (Halifax) Atletico Ottawa, York United FC (Toronto), Forge FC (Hamilton), Valour FC (Winnipeg), Cavalry FC (Calgary), FC Edmonton and Pacific FC.

The league has already awarded “exclusive rights” to an expansion franchise to a company planning to start a franchise in Saskatoon. Former commissioner David Clanachan is working on bringing a franchise to the Windsor area.

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