CFL continuing talks with federal government about return to field in '21

·2 min read

The CFL has continued talks with the federal government about securing financial assistance in an effort to return to the field this season.

A source confirmed talks are ongoing. The source was granted anonymity because the league and federal government have not divulged details of the talks.

The two sides have maintained informal dialogue since last August when the CFL cancelled plans for an abbreviated '20 season after being unable to secure a $30-million interest-free loan from Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has said his league and Ottawa have left the door open regarding future plans.

The CFL unveiled a full 18-game schedule for all nine teams last November, but Ambrosie has also stated the league is keeping all of its options — including teams playing a shorter schedule — open. The season is scheduled to begin in June.

Last year, the CFL approached Ottawa for funding it maintained was crucial for an abbreviated season. Ambrosie said the league lost around $20 million in 2019 and a source familiar with the situation told The Canadian Press that not playing last year cost the CFL between $60 and $80 million

The source was granted anonymity because the league has never revealed its financial results for 2020.

However, if the league does resume play in 2021, there's no denying the importance of being able to do so with fans in the stands. That's because the CFL is a gate-driven league, with all nine reams relying heavily upon ticket sales to help achieve their bottom line.

So pushing back the start of the season could allow more Canadians to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and thus potentially be able to attend games in larger numbers..

Another key element of the CFL's 2021 plan is the adoption of a health-and-safety plan by both provincial and federal officials. Currently, the league's health-and-safety protocols are before the six provincial governments where its franchises are currently located.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press