The league had been trying to negotiate a loan from the federal government. Different figures were bandied about at different times. From talk of a $150 million loan rquest in May. In July the headline loan request figure had fallen substantially to $44 million.
All the way to the latest negotiations for a $30 million dollar loan for a shortened season. It was because of the refusal of the latter that ultimatley signalled the shuttering of the league for this season.
CFL Faces losses
The League faces losses through all of this. With no football in 2020, a source ‘familiar with the situation’ said the league will lose between $60 and $80 million this year, as reported by AFI Review.
Another requirement for an abbreviated season was the league and the CFL Players’ Association to agree on an amended collective bargaining agreement. The CFL said it was close to a deal when it called off the season on Monday.
For some players they will have unwittingly played their last down in the CFL. Others may now opt to walk away. Whilst others may look to see where there is a market for their talents.
Trying to stay positive
CFL comissioner Randy Ambroise is walking a difficult tightrope right now. He has to be the face of this. Meanwhile boards of governors and owners will have their own agendas.
He has tried to portray some positives looking forward to 2021. Including stating that “the league and its teams are working together on a new initiative that will allow fans to show their pride in the CFL’s storied history at the same time they pledge their support for the future, which will be unveiled in the coming days”.
The CFL finds a way
The CFL may want to look at its business plan. A ticket driven league is difficult to sustain in the early 21st Century. Plus they need to improve their social connections in some areas.
But this is also an opportunity. The CFL now has a year to look at its own strengths and weaknesses and work out what is best.
Revenue sharing? Team or league shares? Putting all kinds of ideas on the table? Now is the time. Because now is not only a sad moment but also an opportunity. An opportunity to solidify the base of the 3 down game.
Big challenges are not new to the CFL
I believe the CFL has survival woven into its genes. This league has stared into the abyss more than once. And survived.
The past decade and a half has seen stadium improvements and a return to nine teams. That is something the league needs to aim to maintain.
In 1986 a ‘Save our Stamps’ campaign helped keep the Calgary Stampeders in business. In 1987 Saskatchewan ran a ‘Save the Roughriders’ telethon. Both teams are still here and integral to the CFL.
After losing susbstantial advertising revenue and a TV contract in the 90’s, the league used the fabled 93-5 American expansion period to bounce back.
In 1996 the Ottawa Rough Riders folded. In 2005 the Ottawa Renegades wound up too. But the RedBlacks are back in town. And have been a success.
In 2003 the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats played in what became known as the ‘Bankruptcy Bowl’ because neither team had an owner. Both are still here.
But through all of this the league has endured. The Grey Cup last wasn’t presented in 1919. 101 years later it won’t be again. That century of history won’t be lost though. Because this league, its fans, the teams – they find a way.
So let’s hope the league seizes this chance. To rebuild. To refresh. And to be ready to add to its own long and illustrious history.
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