Randy Ambrosie optimistic CFL to launch 2021 campaign


With the CFL still facing challenges ahead of a potential 2021 season, commissioner Randy Ambrosie had reason to be optimistic Monday.Ambrosie spoke about the league’s return to play next year during a state of the league fan talk that kicked off the Unite Gray Cup, the league’s virtual version of the presentation of the events traditionally held during its annual championship week.

In August, the CFL canceled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to get financial aid from Ottawa. The league had hoped to play a shortened campaign in Winnipeg, but maintained it needed government funding to run a shortened season.

Ambrosie’s confidence was confirmed on Monday that a second company, Moderna, was touting positive results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Last week, Pfizer Inc. suggested their vaccine appeared to be just as effective.

“Honestly, you mean a good omen for the Unite Gray Cup,” Ambrosie said. “It set the day on a much more optimistic basis.

“It gives us all reason to believe that optimism is not wrong, that there are better days ahead… not just for all of society, but for the CFL as well.

Ambrosie said the CFL may be able to release a 2021 schedule soon.

“In the not too distant future, CFL fans from coast to coast will have the chance to choose their seats, mark their schedules and ensure they are at the forefront of CFL football in 2021, ”Ambrosie said. “Yes, we have to take care of ourselves, we have to take care of each other, we have to get through this pandemic but I think there are many reasons to feel good in 2021.”

This includes the organization of the 2021 Gray Cup game in Hamilton, as planned. This year’s CFL title contest was scheduled to take place in Regina, but the city of Saskatchewan will be hosting the 2022 championship.

Ambrosie’s speech was admittedly long on optimism but short on details. But that’s no surprise given the uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus, whether it’s what the numbers will look like next summer or when a vaccine could be widely available.

There’s also the status of the Canada-U.S. Border – which currently remains closed – and how that might impact American players coming to the North to play football. It is also unclear whether the CFL will resume play, whether supporters will be allowed to return to the stadium and if so, how many.

This is certainly a big factor as the league’s nine franchises depend heavily on ticket sales for revenue generation, a fact Ambrosie reiterated during his speech on Monday.

“We are forecasting a scenario of potential less than full participation,” Ambrosie said. “That will be, in my mind, a critical point, but what exactly that percentage will be, again, we will be guided to some extent by our conversations with public health officials.

“We’ll choose a percentage of capacity and that’s where we’ll start. If we can have more we will have more and if we are to have less we will have less.

“But to clearly fall into the reasonable, rational and credible category, there’s going to have to be some indication that we may not be able to have 100% of the capacity of the fans, but I still believe that we are going to find a scenario everyone will come together and be something that brings us back to the field in ’21. ”

The 2021 season will be the last one included in the current collective agreement between the CFL and the CFL Players Association. Although this will have to be agreed upon by both parties, Ambrosie said a pandemic clause could be included in a future ABC.

“I think it’s safe to say that the pandemic will easily change the way businesses write contracts,” Ambosie said. “I think we are going to see pandemic clauses inserted into regular daily contracts.

“I think that’s definitely something we need to talk to the players about. I think the most important thing we can do now is how do we shape the future together? How to create an alignment of interests? sure that we all row together so that ultimately the league gets stronger, that our foundation gets stronger. ”

Ambrosie said where there was common ground, however, all parties wanted football to return in 2021.

“In all of my discussions… I think everyone wants to play,” he said. “We want to get back on the pitch and we know how important it is.

“The message we want to send (Monday) is that we have been knocked out, but like great football players we are going to get up right away and get back into the clique looking forward to the next game. It (2020) wasn’t great for us and the world, but we are focused on the future in a very positive way. ”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2020.


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