CFL cancels plans for short fall season, pushes focus to resuming in 2021

·2 min read

With NFL training camps pushing forward toward the start of the regular season, the Canadian Football League decided it won’t play at all this year.

The CFL announced its plans for a shortened fall season won’t happen. The CFL, which usually starts its season in summer, had pushed back the season and hoped to play starting in September. The league announced Monday it is canceling the short season.

Despite a comprehensive plan to return to play, including playing in a bubble in the hub city of Winnipeg, the league decided against it after not getting financial support, according to the league’s site.

CFL’s decision related to finances

The CFL’s site said the decision to cancel a short fall season came after the league and union worked on an agreement, public health authorities approved the plan to play and federal authorities signed off too. But, the CFL’s site wrote, “the government ultimately declined the CFL’s appeal for financial support.”

The financial models for the CFL and NFL are different. The NFL will lose a lot of revenue from not having fans or limited attendance, but will make a lot of money from its TV deals. The CFL’s site said most of its revenue comes from fans in the stands, and that wasn’t possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The CFL said a commercial loan was cost prohibitive.

“Even with additional support, our owners and community-held teams would have had to endure significant financial losses to play in 2020,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.

“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.”

Andrew Harris #33 of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers attempts to break a tackle from Mike Daly of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year in the 107th Grey Cup Championship game. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Andrew Harris #33 of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers attempts to break a tackle from Mike Daly of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year in the 107th Grey Cup Championship game. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)

CFL committed to 2021 return

There was a positive tone in the announcement, saying the 2021 Grey Cup in Hamilton will be “the largest ‘reunion’ in Canadian sports history.”

“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” Ambrosie said in a statement. “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 CFL has a long and rich history, so canceling the 2020 season altogether couldn’t have been easy. The league can only hope 2021 is better.

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