3 Downs: How conversations are ongoing between the CFL, the players

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TSN Football Insider Farhan Lalji and Dave Naylor to discuss later with the CFL, the current economic situation of the mid-COVID-19, that the dialogue is like between the league and the players as well as the CFL could look like beyond this season, if there even is one. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie sent a letter to the fans and to the players, describing the current situation around the CFL’s attempt to return to the game. He continues to meet with various levels of federal and provincial governments. What is the latest on the players and the league as much as the conversations?

Naylor: Although the league’s player relations committee, has joined the Players Association in order to invite them to begin formal negotiation on the 2020 and 2021 of the CFL season. Now, in terms of 2020, this is going to involve, we expect, certain harsh realities. Things like pro-rata wages. Like the fact that players may have to enter a bubble in a hub for most or perhaps even all of the season. So, these are questions that are going to come in the short term. In the longer term, I think they will talk of things to try to stabilize and ensure that the league is economically viable beyond this season, as it continues with the conditions of COVID-19.

Lalji: I think that the players are already disrupted the input of these negotiations. They had a survey that was sent by the AP to all of its members. And there was some great pushback on areas such as prorated wages and work weeks shorter. Coupled with the fact that they have already obtained a grievance in place because the league has refused its June 1 bonus list and when they found out this morning that the government discussions are going on without them, they said wait a minute, the last time this happened, it was clear that they were given assurances by the league that this will not occur without the participation. It is that has happened. They are not happy about it.

Naylor: Well, in terms of where it happens on the possibility of play, we’ve talked about, Farhan, for weeks on the various models of the league has studied. It seems that they are closing in on the point of completing an image to go with one or two hub cities. And these would be hub cities that the teams and players will have to register and be may be for the duration of the season. Of course, for the beginning of the season. And that’s going to say things that were difficult for the players to accept, and I think that there are also a few teams in the league who are not necessarily convinced that it is viable. So, the first thing that the league is going to have to do is get a consensus around the table with his own teams and then try to follow-up by the presentation of this vision to the players.

Lalji: As far as players are concerned, I can tell you right now that there are some players in the league who have already made the decision to move on and pursue other opportunities. At least for this season. Just to much uncertainty about what lies ahead. They have to provide for their families and when you look at the possibility of leaving the families of three months to conclude a hub for a fraction of their salary, there are some who will say thanks, but no thanks.

Naylor: Some of the more difficult of the news in the CFL this week. The football operations of the cap, which is all the general managers and scouts right down to the coaches, will be down 20% in 2021. And this is, I think, part of an overall belt-tightening, we will see through the CFL. I mean, the commissioner has taken a cut, we know that there will be a 20% reduction in business operations for the team and for the team presidents up to 30%. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what is eventually going to land on the players as well. I expect that by 2021, I’d be stunned if they are not in front of something like a 20% wage reduction, both in terms of what the salary cap will be for next season.

Lalji: But it will not be easy because, unlike coaches, there’s a player of the union. They have had the opportunity to negotiate collectively, even if the dynamics around that will be a little different. But I can say, I do not think that at any time during the course of this pandemic has never been terrible about playing in 2020.



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