TORONTO — The CFL’s board of governors was expected to be brought up to date Thursday on the league’s discussion with Ottawa on an interest-free loan.
The CFL sent the federal government a request for a $30-million, interest-free loan earlier this week. That’s a reduction of the $44-million amended requisition it presented last month.
In April, the CFL approached the federal government for up to $150 million in assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CFL governors were scheduled to meet via vidoconference Thursday. While the agenda wasn’t divulged, it’s expected the board members will brought up to speed on the situation with the federal government.
If granted, the loan would allow the CFL to stage an abbreviated 2020 season.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated the earliest an shortened season could begin is early next month. But he’s also said a cancelled campaign remains a possibility.
A source with knowledge of the situation told The Canadian Press on Wednesday the CFL’s newest plan calls for approximately $28 million of the loan going towards an abbreviated campaign. The CFL source spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the league nor federal government have divulged details of the loan request.
Montreal Alouettes quarterback Vernon Adams did his part Thursday to try and sway the federal government, particularly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Dear @JustinTrudeau,” he tweeted. “Please help us out and I promise to bring the Grey Cup to you first.”
This is essentially the league’s last-ditch effort to secure financial support from the federal government for an abbreviated ’20 season. If Ottawa turns down the CFL’s request, the overwhelming sentiment is it will result in no football being played this year.
Ottawa would definitely require cost certainty from the CFL to approve the assistance. But also needed would be a specified repayment plan as well as Health Canada approval of health-and-safety protocols the league would implement during a shortened season.
If there is an abbreviated season, it will be staged in Winnipeg, the CFL’s tentative hub city.
The source says the league has said it expects to lose between $60 and $80 million with a cancelled season. Even if football is played, the deficit could be as much as $50 million.
The CFL has been steadfast that it needs government money for a shortened season. Ambrosie has stated the nine-team circuit collectively lost upwards of $20 million in 2019.
And with no football so far this year, franchises have had little opportunity to generate revenue. The CFL is a gate-driven league, with ticket sales being the primary source of revenue for all of its teams.
The CFL continues to meet with the CFL Players’ Association about amending the current collective bargaining agreement to allow for an abbreviated season. The league also must finalize a deal with broadcast partner TSN.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press