All CFL players could become free agents if season ended


Photo Scott Grant /

The CFL could be forced to deal with a legal work problem if the league were to suspend or postpone the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Training camps, was originally scheduled to open on May 17, has been postponed indefinitely. As efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus continue, the federal and provincial governments, along with their municipal counterparts, are taking steps to reduce social gatherings through physical distancing.

The first CFL preseason game is scheduled for May 24, while the regular season is set to begin on June 11. However, other cities should follow the example of Calgary and ban public events. This would cause the triennial calendar to be postponed or suspended. Two words similar in meaning, but legally interpretations could be open to debate.

One word in particular appears in a clause incorporated into all standard player contracts signed in the CFL. Line 16 reads as follows:

It is mutually understood and agreed that if the operation of the Canadian Football League is suspended, this contract will be immediately terminated and the remuneration to be paid to the player will be on the basis provided in paragraph 11 hereof.

Line 16 was probably included in player contracts to protect the league should it ever shut down. Although the CFL has been in relatively stable financial form for the past 20 years, it is prudent to treat the possibility of its disappearance from a legal point of view.

Most forms of compensation – report bonuses, achievement bonuses, wages and recreation incentives – are only granted at the start of the season. Signature bonuses and off season bonuses have been or should be paid. According to the wording of the CFL contracts, players who have received any type of bonus out of season would not be required to reimburse it to the organization and to be able to keep the money.

As for wages throughout the season, pArticle 11 states that players are only entitled to compensation for the work they have already done. Currently, most players have not earned a dollar since the end of the 2019 season as no games were played in 2020. This could allow the CFL to suspend operations without paying more. money to his players.

Yes the league is obliged to cancel, postpone or suspend the season, the wording will be essential for legal purposes. If the season is postponed, the league could argue that a delay does not constitute a suspension. But the CFL players union and agents could argue the opposite and argue that their clients should be free agents.

According to sources, there is a potential for scenario where all the CFL players to become free agents – an unexpected possibility when the player’s standard contract has been agreed in collective bargaining. The sudden possibility of teams having to reorganize their lists on an open market would be unprecedented.

For the players, it gives you the opportunity to find a job in another league – the NFL or XFL. the FPAC grieved regarding the NFL window recreation failed, an element of the new collective agreement that has not been authorized through the appropriate channels north and south of the border.

The CFL office would not comment on the potential contract cancellation if the 2020 season was postponed or suspended. It is believed that the headquarters of the league remains silent on the matter due to the legal ramifications that may be on the horizon, due to the language of the contract.

Players with 2020 option years entered last season thinking that they would be free to train and enter the NFL after its conclusion. This did not happen, which left players in limbo. One such athlete is the Calgary Stampeders linebacker Nate Holley.The FPAC has grieved on behalf of the most notable reigning recruit in the league. who has since went to arbitration.

Holley is just one example. There are a number of other players this would have had NFL workouts, who could have given them the chance to sign, but it was deleted due to the NFL option window blunder. Young players stand out a the productive season would have been courted by the NFL teams.

The suspension or postponement of the CFL season has created a number of problems for the league and CFLPA, but line 16 may be one of the most important.


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