CFL Pass

CFL season sacked for first time since WWII

For the first time since 1942-44, when it shut down to support Canada’s World War II effort, there will not be a season of Canadian football.

The CFL board of governors has voted to cancel the 2020 season due to financial constraints caused by the pandemic.

“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” league commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement, Monday morning. “We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”

The vote by league governors came early Monday, after the federal government turned down the league’s request for an interest-free loan of $30 million late Friday.

The loan was the league’s last-gasp attempt to save a six-game season from the jaws of a COVID-19 shutdown that has wiped out revenue streams since the spring.

“Even with additional support, our owners and community-held teams would have had to endure significant financial losses to play in 2020,” Ambrosie said. “Without it, the losses would be so large that they would really hamper our ability to bounce back strongly next year and beyond. The most important thing is the future of our league.”

Ambrosie says the government steered the league toward borrowing the money needed from a bank, with a federal guarantee backing it. But he says that would have made financial sense, long-term.

“That kind of arrangement would hamper our recovery more than bolster it,” he said. “On two occasions, in June and again at the beginning of August, the government reached out to us with new indications they might step up and help in a more meaningful way. But at the end of the day, the help we needed to play this year never materialized. “This outcome after months of discussions with government officials is disappointing. But we’re focused now on the long-term future and we will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments in that context.”

The long-term fallout from the season’s cancellation won’t be known for some time, but the damage will be significant.

Short-term, players who’ve been without a paycheque since June will have to look for other means to support themselves and their families. Some are sure to be pushed into retirement from football.

What happens to team staff, including coaches, remains to be seen. Blue Bomber president Wade Miller will take questions later today.

The future of Ambrosie will no doubt also be up for discussion.

As the face of the league’s governors, Ambrosie first approached the federal government with a request for a bailout as high as $150 million, but was rebuked for not having the players union behind him and not having a complete business plan.

Amid fierce criticism, Ambrosie got the players on board and reduced his request repeatedly, as the league’s hopes for a season eventually shrunk to six games plus an expanded playoff for the Grey Cup.

The compressed season was to take place solely in Winnipeg, with the players in a bubble concept that had been approved by Manitoba health officials and seen favourably by federal health officials.

The federal loan was the last piece of a shaky puzzle, and it fell through this weekend.

While some form of Canadian football hasn’t missed a regular-season since 1944, the Grey Cup has been handed out every year since and including 1920.

The Bombers are the defending champions.

Source: winnipegsun.com




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