Sportsnet’s Arash Madani: The CFL can survive 2020, but worries about 2021

Photo courtesy: The Rod Pedersen Show

Sportsnet’s Arash Madani joined The Rod Pederson Show Monday afternoon and shared harsh realities about the CFL season and the league’s future.

“It is hub city model or bust. If it is going to happen, which is highly unlikely, it has to happen soon,” Madani said about a shortened 2020 season.

He lambasted the league for its poor communication with players and said the criticism of Ambrosie by the players is is justified.

“Absolutely they are [justified], because they need to know something. They are trying to figure out what am I going to do if I don’t have a job, what am I going to do if I can’t provide for my family? And they aren’t being told anything,” Madani explained.

“The pandemic caught everyone by surprise and you can’t really forecast and plan for this. But how far ahead are they now from where they were in mid-March?”

The league has dragged its feet on open communication with the players and still has yet to secure Canadian Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) for its players. Madani wonders why so much conversation has been directed at player salaries.

“”Why are we spending so much time talking about player salaries, when GM’s are making four or five hundred thousand. How much was [Chris] Jones making in Saskatchewan?” he asked.

“Why isn’t there a cap on how much GMs are making, on what team presidents are making? Why aren’t there tiers there? Where’s the leverage for a general manager? Where else are they going to go?”

While a COVID-19 shortened 2020 season is the topic on most people’s mind, Madani believes there is growing worry in the league that 2021 could be the bigger threat to the league’s future.

“There are some people on the medical side of this operation and some people on the business side who have not concern, but worry about 2021,” said Madani.

“What happens on May 1, 2021, if there isn’t approval to play in front of fans? That’s the biggest worry right now, not this season but what’s going to happen if medically, scientifically, you can’t have gatherings because of this virus next year.”

Madani has learned that MLSE, the owners of the Toronto Argonauts, as well as the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Toronto FC, have been generating serious financial models to accommodate empty stadiums into the fall of 2021 due to a possible second wave of infections and its growing virulence in the United States. That would mean disaster for the gate-driven revenue model of the CFL.

“Can the CFL survive 2020? Absolutely. Last I checked the commissioner went to the house committee finance group and said our owners are philanthropists. Well, if you are philanthropist, write a cheque to survive some uncertain times like other corporations are doing,” Madani explained.

“But not being able to play two seasons, and who knows what’s going to happen, that is what has some people a little concerned.”

Wear your masks, folks.