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2021 (??) CFL Season


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The Canadian Football League has been outrageously quiet since it pulled the plug on its season more than two months ago, leaving behind a wake of speculation about where things are headed next.

With the reality setting in that COVID-19 is likely to still be around in some form next summer, there is real concern about what the 2021 season might look like or if it will occur at all.

There are teams that believe it is vitally important to play in 2021 and that without a season the CFL is in danger of being mothballed. Whether every team believes that is another question. And there is a lot to sort out before anyone can accurately predict what a season might look like and how much pain the teams are collectively willing to stomach to make it happen.

The league and its franchises are currently running through various scenarios for next season, trying to get a handle on true costs of each and working at ways to trim budgets and save money. That’s likely to continue until the league can truly choose a course of action, which feels like next April at the earliest.

Why? Well, there’s not much point in fully committing to a scenario that’s seven months away if that scenario might be totally unrealistic by the time you get there.

There has been no 2021 business plan presented yet, only regular updates to the presidents and governors about what the league is doing to prepare for the unknown.

It should be noted that teams will need to make decisions about retaining assistant coaches with expiring contracts by December, which will be the first real economic commitments to a 2021 season. Restrictions on signing players will need to be lifted well before the opening of February free agency, where players are likely to meet a cautious market – one in which signing bonuses will probably be absent.

There’s a collective bargaining agreement to amend, if not renegotiate, with the players, which will require some kind of pressure point because it always does. But the league can’t sit down with the players until it gets a true handle on revenues and it can’t do that until it chooses a course of action.

Will CFL teams be allowed to have full stadiums next summer? It doesn't seem likely. But just what percentage of capacity will be allowed – if any at all – is impossible to guess. It seems as if the league is counting on the restrictions that currently prevent fans from being in stadiums being lifted. But to what degree?

When will we see a schedule? Good question. Or could we see multiple schedules for different scenarios? Never say never.

Could it be a 21-week, 18-game season played in home stadiums? Unlikely, given the losses teams are expected to take with reduced numbers of fans in the stands. Could we see a return to the 10-week bubble? Maybe. A nine-game schedule played in home stadiums before fans? Perhaps.

The point is no one knows, so demanding answers to questions that can’t possibly be answered right now is a waste of time.

All we know is that there’s going to be a lot less revenue for teams to operate with under any scenario, not just because of crowd restrictions but also due to older fans choosing to stay home for their safety. The CFL’s fan demographics do it no favours in this regard.

Getting consensus on a best course of action won’t be easy for the CFL’s nine teams. Back in the summer, there were teams that were willing to play without government support and teams that weren’t. And just like then, the biggest challenge commissioner Randy Ambrosie faces now is finding a scenario they can all live with.

Adopting a revenue-sharing model so that each team absorbs the same amount of red ink would certainly make consensus-building easier, which many believe should be the direction for the future, COVID-19 or not.

The other elephant in the room is federal government, which many in the CFL believe left it high and dry last summer after months of back-and-forth talks where the league believed it was making progress.

Is the CFL prepared to go down that road again, knowing it doesn’t control the timeline and larger forces can change things in an instant? Perhaps, although it’s not as though the feds don’t have a long list of people coming at them with their hands out.

There will be voices demanding the owners suck up the losses of playing a season under any circumstance, as owners have done in other sports. But the business calculation in sports such as MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA is different because of the percentage of revenues those leagues derive from television.

Losses sustained by playing in those leagues can also be viewed as investments towards protecting massive franchise values. That’s not the case in the CFL, where teams can’t just float money on the backs of their franchise values, and where one third of the teams are publicly owned.

It would be beneficial for the league to soon announce its formal commitment to play some kind of season in 2021.

But beyond that, get ready for months more of waiting with lots of questions and speculation but very few answers.

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If I was running the league, the first thing I'd do is reduce the salary cap to something like $1.5 to $ 2million temporarily so that the tv contract pays all salaries. When I say temporarily that means once fans can return to the stands then player & administrative salaries can rise. The players wouldn't have much of a choice to agree or not. they don't sign then they don't play.

I'd reduce the roster to 32 players with 2 practice or taxi squad members. I'd have a 2 week training camp limited to 45 players followed by a limited season. No exhibition games. Have inter squad games instead. How many games during the regular season? I couldn't say. Only enough for revenues to cover the cost of the season. I'd have a head coach & 2 assistants. I'd cut out the big 6 figure salaries some of these GMs & Presidents make to a more realistic number. One scout covering US & Canada as well as access to a list of free agent players in the event of injuries. I'd cut, cut, cut to the bare bones.

As far as costs go, both divisions would only play each other in the Grey Cup. It would be all inter divisional play during the regular season. In order for this league to survive, forget about just playing. It's survival first which is why these Draconian measures need to be done. So, rather than a bubble in a city where everyone plays which may be the best option, it is prohibitively expensive, Therefore, I think you could have teams play out of their home stadiums as long as they're empty & a team bubble is put in place in each CFL city like we see in the NFL & MLB. They had some infections but so far (in a country being ravaged by Covid 19) they seem to be doing okay. MLB crowned a World Series champion 2 nights ago. The CFL should research what those 2 leagues did & how they worked it. 

A lot of coaches, GMs, Presidents & players may decide to do something else because of the reduced salaries & leave. But the harsh reality is there isn't a choice. Besides, sometimes when one door closes another one opens. New people mean new ideas. Others will take their place. Anyway, right or wrong that is how I see it. 

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Based on what Dr. Fauci said today, I've lost some of my optimism about a 2021 season taking place. Not that it won't happen, but I'd previously believed (rightly or wrongly) for some time now that a vaccine early in 2021 would all but guarantee a 2021 CFL season. Now I'm starting to think that it may take Draconian measures as well as a lot of creative thinking to get a CFL season done next year. 

We know that we can't rely on any federal assistance to help out on the financial side of things and managing a season in the CFL from a health and safety point of view for all concerned is extremely complex with so many unknown variables at this point in time. 

Here's some of what Dr. Fauci had to say:

"If we begin distributing doses of vaccine at the very beginning of 2021 ... I think when you start seeing people getting vaccinated in January, February, March, April, May, and it's clear that it's safe and that it is impacting the course of the pandemic in the United States, more and more people will want to get vaccinated. That's going to take several months. And if it takes several months, you're going to get into the third and maybe the fourth quarter of 2021."

However, Fauci warned, that timeline depends on "how effective the vaccine is, compounded by what percentage of the population actually wants to get vaccinated."

For that reason, he said, "as that process evolves, you cannot abandon public health measures because the vaccine is not going to be perfect and not everybody is going to take it."


I don't think TSN money will be enough, even with all kinds of measures and salary restrictions. I have no idea how many butts in the stands will be enough. I don't know how many people would even be allowed in to watch the games. But I do think that could be the determining factor regarding a 2021 season. Hopefully a vaccine will be highly effective, testing will become quicker and more accurate, and the whole COVID situation will improve in Canada much faster than in the U.S. as Fauci views it for next year.


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well, Ambrosie didn't say much today, but he did say they're working on a plan to be able to play with no fans or limited fans next year. Not sure HOW exactly, but they're at least figuring out ways to do it if they had to. So it's something. They're doing a bunch of Grey Cup Week stuff in a few weeks (virtual) and one event is a "Fan State Of The League Address" thing with Ambrosie, so hopefully he'll have more details then. I remain hopeful...

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For a number of years.
Still thinking of his beloved CFL.

Edit - [email protected]: "I'm lead to believe that David Braley floated money to pretty much every team in the league. Not necessarily gave it but loaned it if they needed flexibility."


Edited by Mr Dee
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Well, to put things in perspective the Spanish Flu lasted approximately 2 1/2 years with absolutely no physical distancing or other such measures in place... the much bigger problem though is modern day there are more transmitters (i.e. people), and COVID-19 is much more infectious.

On the bright side, uhhh... daylight savings time so a 49-hour long weekend, I guess?...

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I just can't see how they can make this work under any scenario where they play with no fans in thye stands. Every team will lose tens of millions of dollars with no fans in attendance. I think the CFL should be glad the Liberals said no to any huge loan this season. At least they don't have a huge financial albatross hanging over them now waiting to pick the bones of a dead football league. Or wondering how they play a second or perhaps even a third season in a bubble & having to ask for more money. It was a blessing Trudeau said no. 

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15 hours ago, 17to85 said:

I don't see why they can't play with fans in the stands. Most of the stadiums are outdoors, just limit capacity and spread people out. The biggest challenge is testing players and coaches and staff to ensure the teams remain healthy.

Government regulations on crowd size. 

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  • 4 weeks later...


It's not impossible to get people back into the stands. If dipshits who are crying about their freedoms took some time to actually look at how countries who are open for business got to that point. Maybe we would be able to have a CFL season. I'm not holding my breath though. I honestly never thought I'd want to leave Canada, but **** me there are a lot of self entitled under educated fucks here. NZ has been holding live sporting events since June (though there was a lockdown in August) Australia is back to normal life, I have a friend in China who has been partying and bar hoping for weeks now. 

I'm not a fan of China or how they do things, but Australia and NZ are examples we should be following.

Edited by Bigblue204
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27 minutes ago, MOBomberFan said:


Ryan Rigmaiden is returning to the BC Lions to be their Director of US Scouting.

He says returning to BC is a 'no brainer'

That's a big loss for us. He's one of the best in the biz. 
Honestly I'm surprised we didn't lock him up before this.

Methinks he's in line to be the Lions future GM.

Edited by Dr Zaius
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  • Jpan85 featured and unfeatured this topic

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