13 February 2024

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A New Era: A Bluffer’s Guide to the L1ON men’s soccer structure

This year sees big change across League1 Ontario as the competition raises its stakes.

League1 Ontario will be structured differently in 2024 with the implementation of promotion and relegation in both the men’s and women’s game.

Here’s a look at how the men’s pyramid will work this year, with the goal to increase the 10-team Championship division to 12 ahead of the 2025 season.


  • No postseason to decide league champions in Premier and Championship
  • Automatic promotion from Championship and League2
  • Automatic relegation from Premier
  • Playoff game for promotion and relegation between Premier and Championship, and Championship and League2

The divisions

The Men’s Premier is the top tier of the League1 Ontario pyramid. This division features the best 12 teams from the Road to 2024 league table, which factors in points from the last two previous seasons. The 10 remaining teams make up the second tier, the Men’s Championship.

Men’s League2 is the third tier, consisting of ‘B teams’ from Premier and Championship clubs, in addition to ‘A’ teams of new license holders such as Sudbury Cyclones, Rush Canada, and The Borough FC. This tier will be split into regional conferences.

Each team will play every other team in their respective division/conference both at home and on the road. In the Premier and Championship, the team that is top of their table once all matches have been played will be crowned champions; there will be no playoffs to determine the title winners. The Premier victors will also gain a berth to represent Ontario in the following Canadian Championship.

Due to League2 being split into three conferences, there will be playoffs to determine the overall third-tier champion. Playoffs will include the three conference winners and one wild card entry – the second-placed team with the most points.

The new Reserve League replaces the former U19 Reserve Division to become an exclusively U20 competition, and will be split into regional conferences with the overall champions decided via playoffs. It is not part of the pyramid ladder, so teams cannot be promoted from or relegated into this division.

Promotion and relegation

The Championship team that are crowned champions will automatically be promoted to the Premier, while the team at the bottom of the Premier standings will be automatically relegated to the Championship – a direct swap with between the best and worst sides.

With L1ON planning for a 12-team Championship tier in 2025, both League2 playoff finalists will win automatic promotion to Championship in 2024 only. There will also be no automatic relegation from the Championship in 2024, but it is planned for following seasons.

The playoff twist

Promotion and relegation does not finish there. This year, the two defeated League2 playoff semifinalists will face off in a repechage match* for the privilege of playing against the bottom-placed (10th) team in the Championship for a place in the second tier. If the Championship team wins, they stay in their division and avoid relegation, while a win for the League2 team will see the two clubs swap divisions.

*Note: this repechage only for the 2024 season as L1ON looks to expand the Men’s Championship to 12 teams ahead of 2025.

A playoff will also happen between the Premier and Championship, where the team second from bottom (11th) in the Premier will face the second-placed team in the Championship in an all-or-nothing game for a place in the top tier in 2025.

“We can’t wait.”

Chris Keem, League1 Ontario’s Operations Manager, has expressed their excitement for the start of the new campaign.

“It’s been 24 months since we first publicly announced our plans for promotion and relegation, and now that it’s almost here, we can’t wait for the competition to begin.

“A lot of work went into bringing this exciting format, that’s loved by soccer fans across the world, to Canadian shores, and I’d like to thank everybody who has had an impact in making it possible, including all our clubs who have been supportive of this change.

“The new structure rewards the best teams in each division across the whole season. The home and away factor will see more rivalries, the playoff games give teams an opportunity for redemption, and we hope fans will be kept on the edge of their seats all the way through the campaign.”

Published On: 13 February 2024

League1 Ontario staff