The Canadian Football League is still in desperate need of government financial assistance and it appears that support will be contingent on the success of lobbying efforts in provincial legislatures.
Several sources from the league, player and government side have said that a deal is close but not done yet.
In addition to asking the federal government to back $42.5 million in financing to secure a shortened season, the deal will likely require the provinces which have CFL teams to effectively co-sign the loan, meaning taxpayers could be on the hook if things go south.
If all goes well, then the plan is one that allows everyone involved to act as a hero but will spread the risk around in the event the league falters.
The necessity of provincial support stems from the fact that the Business Development Bank of Canada, where the loan could come from, is a crown corporation that cannot be mandated to provide assistance. Given its current and historical finances, the CFL would not meet lending criteria without provincial support.
The existing support for the proposal seems to vary by province, according to Lilley’s report.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba have signaled a willingness to support their teams and the league. Ontario hosts three CFL teams and Alberta has two making their participation vital.
So far, sources in the Ford and Kenney governments say they have not received a plan from the federal government and can’t commit until they know the details.
If Ontario and Alberta go along with the plan, the other provinces, including British Columbia and Quebec, are expected to follow suit.
Provinces may be wary to take on the risk of guaranteeing a CFL loan, but they have some motivation to do so. Many stadiums around the country are taxpayer funded and the collapse of the league would make those massive expenditures provide little return. Not to mention the considerable economic hit from the loss of thousands of jobs associated with the CFL, from players to the parking attendant outside the venue.
The CFL has set an apparent “drop-dead” date of Friday, July 31 to agree to a 2020 season and has previously said it was waiting for government certainty before proceeding. Sources within the government have in turn said that they are waiting for an agreement between the CFL and its players. One side will have to blink quickly, and in doing so convince conservative governments in Ontario and Alberta to lend a helping hand.
Just when you thought the CFL couldn’t get any more Canadian, now we have to deal with the politics of federalism too.