CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie did not include the league’s players in his statement to the Canadian government’s standing committee on finance.
That fact was questioned by multiple members of parliament following Ambrosie’s presentation. CFL Players’ Association president Solomon Elimimian agreed his union membership should have been part of the initial pitch for financial aid at the federal level.
“We weren’t consulted before the proposal went out. We should have been consulted. I like to feel the CFL is a big community. We’re all in this together and I don’t think that was articulated the best way by the commissioner,” Elimimian told Postmedia reporter Dan Barnes.
“It’s important that we put aside whatever differences we have to navigate a path forward together. We understand we are stronger together and I think the league understands that. And these next few talks we have with the league will be critical to making sure that we’re aligned entirely and publicly.”
Ambrosie asked for $30 million in working capital to maintain operations through the pandemic and estimates the league could need as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true. However, there was no plan for how exactly the money would be used and what amount was potentially earmarked for the players.
“We don’t make the typical pro athlete type of money that people think we make. We have to be hopeful right now, but I do know the realities of our players and many of them are cheque to cheque,” Elimimian said.
“Many of them are struggling like so many others right now. This is how we pay our bills. Without some government aid, it’s going to be a tough year for sure for our players. In that first email I wrote to the players, I told them over a month ago to prepare for the worst.”
Ambrosie divulged the future of the CFL is very much in jeopardy: Ours is a big brand, but not a wealthy business. Collectively our teams lose between $10 and $20 million dollars a season. The salary of NBA superstar Steph Curry is equal to the salaries of all of our players combined.
“It paints a picture of where the league is at financially.” Elimimian said.
“Of course I felt the players’ voice is the strongest voice because they’re relatable to the average person going through a lot of uncertainty right now and that’s the voice that should be highlighted because, as Randy said, we are the stars of the game.”