Frustrated Redblacks players, disappointed after season cancellation

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The Ottawa Redblacks players are asking for financial compensation now that it is clear they will not be playing football this year.The Canadian Football League (CFL) on Monday announced the cancellation of the upcoming season, which means there will be no Gray Cup presented for the first time since 1919.

” It’s disappointing. I was hoping we would be able to play at least some sort of season, ”said offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan, who starts right guard for the Redblacks.

Raised in Arnprior, Ont., MacMillan has been with the team since his inaugural season seven years ago.

They feel robbed because they’ve been working their ass all year round, and now they don’t even have the chance to go and compete for a job and earn a salary.– Antoine Pruneau, representative of the Redblacks players

“Doing all that work, making sacrifices… and missing a season where you can only get a limited number of seasons – it’s really disappointing,” he said.

MacMillan now plans to spend the year working on the career of the financial advisor he hopes to start once his football days are over.

A football fan waves an Ottawa Redblacks flag ahead of the 106th Gray Cup between the Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders. Any hope of competing for the trophy in 2020 was dashed on Monday when the CFL officially canceled the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nathan Denette / Canadian Press)

Other players feel uncertain about their future.

“They feel robbed because they’ve worked their ass all year round, and now they don’t even have the chance to go compete for a job and earn a salary, make a living from football,” said Antoine Pruneau, a defensive back for the Redblacks and a player representative.

“There’s also no security for 2021, so it’s really tough,” he said.

Pruneau wants the players, who spent months training for the upcoming season only to see it called off, to get some sort of compensation for the time they put in.

CFL plans to help players

Unlike other professional sports leagues, the CFL does not have significant broadcast revenue and instead relies on ticket sales, said Mark Goudie, president and CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG ), owner of Redblacks.

He admitted that there was a lot of anxiety among the players.

“It’s their livelihood. Their careers are short and missing a season is devastating for them, ”he said.

Antoine Pruneau is a defensive back and representative of Redblacks players. He says some players feel robbed because they have been training for months for the coming season, only to see it canceled. (Judy Trinh / CBC)

Goudie said one possibility is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal government program that allows employers to apply for wage subsidies for employees, and which OSEG has already used to keep its 140 employees.

“I know the league is working on what it might look like with the players union right now,” he said, adding that the CFL hopes to present something to the players in the coming days.

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