Lions’ president Rick LeLacheur believes less talk, more action needed between CFL, CFLPA

B.C. Lions president Rick LeLacheur is about that action.

LeLacheur wants to see the league and its players’ association come together for the betterment of the CFL amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of talk and no action. Maybe we’ve both been bad at communications. I’ve been around the league a long time and I’ve seen some real struggles and the CFL’s probably had more than nine lives, but this is by far the great challenge that we have ever had,” LeLacheur told TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver.

“To me it’s just let’s quit talking in public and talk to each other and see if we can get something accomplished here. We know that a lot of them are not getting any money right now. It’s going to take everybody to get us out of this because it’s a very serious problem.”

The Edmonton native resides in the Vancouver area and he’s been working from home during the coronavirus crisis. LeLacheur stated he’s seen an email from CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay outlining the number of items that have to be addressed in the CBA if a potential shortened season happens in a hub city or without fans this year.

“There’s the CBA that’s scheduled to expire at the end of next year, 2021. We’re not going to come out of this in one year, it’s going to take us a few years to rebuild this, to overcome the investment that all the teams have had to make this year and losses. There might be some losses next year,” LeLacheur said.

“So I’d certainly favour sitting down with the union and negotiating either an extension to the existing CBA or a new CBA that goes for a longer number of years where over time when we climb out of it, we can all win by it.”

LeLacheur believes there are four focuses for the league to overcome in creating a COVID-19 return to play and recovery plan. The CFL’s costs, the teams and their two separate operations on the business and football operations side along with the players. All four have to be intertwined in order to create a plan which could be moved forward.

“Our two priorities are to ensure the safety of all of our employees and the players, regardless of where we’re playing. And then number two, if it’s financially viable. We’ve gotta look at a shortened season, or a hub shortened season or not playing at all,” LeLacheur said.

“There’s a lot of dollars involved of course, and we’ve got to measure a lot of things. We’re getting to the point that where we’re fine-tuning a number of these, and I’m hopeful that we’ll at least be able to look at a serious proposal if we go that route by the end of this month. We’re getting closer to see if we can make it work.”

Within the next 45 to 60 days, LeLacheur thinks it’s possible to decide whether any football will be played in 2020. The hub city model must be financially viable and players have to agree on the specifics, if the parties signed off it’s possible that start date could happen earlier.

Those discussions now have to start with the PA. If we can come to some sort of an agreement that’s financially viable for the owners to proceed and for the players to see if they’re onboard to play less games and less money,” LeLacheur said.

“There is real concern on my part and David Braley’s part. We’ve both been around for quite a while and have seen a lot of different types of scenarios. This is real on a concern that: can we make it through? I think we can if we fight, bite, scratch and everybody participate and work together, I think we can overcome it — but it’s going to take everybody for sure.”

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