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CFL request for federal funding denied: Report

The CFL’s request for a $30-million, interest-free, season-saving loan has been denied by the federal government, according to a Sunday report by TSN’s Dave Naylor.

The league had hoped to use the money to stage a shortened season that would have consisted of six games per team, plus playoffs.

Winnipeg had been designated as the hub city, where the nine teams would have operated within a bubble due to COVID-19.

But the bubble burst Friday night, according to Naylor, when the federal government informed the league that the loan would not be forthcoming.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s first public plea for funding occurred in early May, triggering a protracted period of speculation, finger-crossing, finger-pointing and missed drop-dead deadlines.

After the Sunday report was widely circulated, Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Kyran Moore tweeted: “I’m not mad I’m exhausted.”

The final hope for a 2020 season may have been exhausted as well.

Naylor reported that the league’s board of governors is to meet Monday morning to discuss the matter. In subsequent appearances on TSN, the network’s football insider said that the possibility of cancelling the 2020 season is very real.

When appearing before the House of Commons standing committee on finance in early May, Ambrosie disclosed that the league loses between $10 million and $20 million per season.

Now that the league is faced with losing a season, period, the consequences could be dire — even for a successful franchise such as the Roughriders.

Roughriders president-CEO Craig Reynolds told reporters in late June that the community-owned team’s stabilization fund of $7.6 million could be exhausted by late fall.

“Our stabilization fund will not sustain us through that and we’re going to need additional sources of funding,” Reynolds said at the time.

If the season is scrapped, the Roughriders stand to lose $10 million. A partial season could have defrayed some of those losses.

“There are a lot of scenarios and unknowns,” Reynolds said. “Based on our (model) right now, it’s marginally better to play.”

Attributing the information to a CFL source, Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reported that “even with an abbreviated season the league would lose upwards of $50 million compared to between $60 million and $80 million with no football at all.”

So either way, the situation was unenviable.

“This is the biggest financial crisis that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have faced in 110 years and I say that with a deep appreciation of our history,” Reynolds said leading up to the team’s annual general meeting.

“I grew up during the telethon years and I was a big fan of the Roughriders when we had lots of financial challenges. Never in our history have we essentially suffered a complete loss of revenue and an inability to generate significant revenue to cover costs.”


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