CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie wants two ‘global’ roster spots: sources

Photo courtesy: Justin Dunk

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie wants two roster spots designated for “global players”, as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, per sources.

Currently, there are 46-players on the game-day roster along with another 10 players on the practice roster (there are other designations such as the injured, suspended or retired list.)

For games, each team must field a minimum of 21 nationals (Canadians) along with a maximum of 20 internationals – typically American players – three quarterbacks and two reserve players.

Of the 23 starters on offence and defence – excluding the quarterback – a minimum of seven must be national players. According to sources, the sides are in favour of reducing the number of national starters. On the practice roster, at least two of the 10 spots must be non-imports.

Somewhere within the construction of a CFL roster, Ambrosie wants two “global players,” with the practice roster as a possible starting point. The number was included when the league and the union exchanged information in the first bargaining sessions in Toronto.

The move would be in line with the league’s “CFL 2.0” strategy, which has seen Ambrosie spend part of the off-season flying to various international cities – Mexico, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway – to sign partnership agreements with international football organizations.

“At its core, it starts with an analysis of what is happening in the world of sports more broadly. And just look every one of the major sports leagues has gone to an international strategy, not because it’s more fun than the old strategy, it’s because it generates a lot of fan feel. If you look at the Premier League, came out of the old English football league, which was essentially I would call it the CFL of English soccer,” Ambrosie said on the 3DownNation podcast.

“In 1993, 20 teams broke away to form the premier league. In 1996 they decided to pursue an international strategy. They were 70 per cent English players in 1996 when they made that decision to go to a much bigger international approach. And fast forward to 2018, it’s actually 70 per cent of the players are international, 30 per cent are English. The 30 per cent earn 4,500 per cent more than the 70 per cent earned in 1996. The premier league as a result of its international strategy saw an explosion of revenue growth and the players benefitted from that success.”

There are questions about the talent level of the potential “global” players. In January, the CFL and its Mexican league partner held a combine that produced six players who “would not look out of place at training camp,” and Edmonton Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland openly questioned the quality.

More “global” talent will be on display next weekend as the league has invited 18 players from five countries to participate in the CFL combine.