Arash Madani: The CFL’s “primary mission is not to get football off the ground this year”

Photo courtesy: The Rod Pedersen Show

Sportsnet’s Arash Madani joined The Rod Pedersen Show on Thursday and, as per usual, didn’t hold back when it came to his takes on the league.

In a ferocious rant, Mandai indicated that he feels the CFL has shifted focus from a legitimate 2020 season and onto strong arming players for years to come.

“Because of the tactics they are using by ramming through a new CBA and reducing the salary cap next season, I get the sense that the league is thinking about 2021 and beyond, and their primary mission is not to get football off the ground this year,” he told the Regina-based show.

“If they announce tomorrow ‘we want to play in 2020’, how much is needed to make this happen? It’s not like you can say let’s fly everybody up here and let’s go. You need to get eight teams relocated into a city. How are you going to run training camps? Where are your meeting rooms? Where are your practice fields? Where are you going to feed them? Where are you going to lodge them? Especially with some of your staff still furloughed and not working right now for different teams.”

To Madani, the situation is emblematic of a deeper problem in the CFL as an institution.

“The owners and leadership folk on CFL teams have long shown they have very little regard for the players, unless they absolutely need them. You saw that with Randy Ambrosie going in front of the house finance committee back in May, with no real dialogue going into it because he didn’t think he needed them,” Madani emphasized

“What the CFL is doing right now, is continuing to show the complete disregard for players themselves.”

Madani believes it has been a failure on the part of league leaders to protect players.

“What has the front office done to help players out, to be committed to try and get them CERB or any other government program? The answer is nothing,” he said angrily.

“If you don’t believe it, here we are in July, the pandemic got off the ground in March, four months have transpired and what has Randy Ambrosie done for the players? What has Wade Miller, Scott Mitchell, Rick LeLacheur, and on and on you go with the team presidents — what have they done for the players to ensure they’re taken care of? From my seat, the answer is nothing.”

Players have been vocal that the current offer on the table, a 33 percent pro-rated contract with no monetary guarantees for a six-game season, is woefully insufficient. The latest reports are that the two side are not even in the same ballpark. Madani sees why.

“What is an American player coming up here for? I thought Tony Washington’s tweet was bang on, if you come up here you are going to walk away with $9,000 on a non-guaranteed contract,” he said.

“I just don’t see it happening”

Madani believes a fundamental shift in strategy is needed to ensure the league’s recovery.

“I actually believe that the CFL right now, if they pull the plug on 2020, will have given themselves a four-month head start, a larger runway to focus on 2021 and to get their business together,” Madani explained.

“To try and ram a CBA down the players’ throats, it’s dirty business and it’s wrong business. They now have an opportunity to focus on long-term stability and really get the health of the league in order. The focus should be on next season, not this.”

That would mean no 2020 CFL season, something that Madani doesn’t see happening anyway.

“At this stage logistically, I just don’t see how they are going to get it off the ground,” Madani said. “There are people who will tell you quietly that this is not the right thing to do from a logistical and safety standpoint.”

The league set a deadline of July 23 to reach an agreement with the players.