Thursday was anticipated to be a key date on the CFL calendar with reports suggesting that the CFL’s board of governors would be meeting to discuss possible federal loan terms, possibly prompting a decision on a 2020 season.
As the day turned to night, it appears that the league has once again kicked that can down the road.
“The CFL did not reach a decision today on play or no-play for 2020 season. More work being done, including ongoing conversations with government. Officials say they are aware that players and fans want certainty and are working to achieve that,” TSN insider Dave Naylor tweeted.
The league is seeking a $30 million interest-free loan direct from the federal government, after applications to both the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Business Credit Availability Program fell apart. $28 million of that loan would reportedly go to funding the expenses associated with a hub city bubble in Winnipeg, with $5 million earmarked for player salaries and the league footing the bill for the rest.
The terms of any loan are entirely contingent on the government approving health protocols for the 2020 season and the CFL agreeing to a structured repayment plan. Even if support is received, the league expects to lose more than $50 million dollars in a COVID-19 shortened season.
Postmedia reporter Dan Barnes confirmed Naylor’s report and added that the league still has some time before a decision has to be made.
“Everybody wondering how much runway the CFL has left. If the plan is to have players quarantine at home for 14 days prior to arrival in Winnipeg hub during the week of Sept. 14, then there is some wiggle room,” he tweeted.
He also added that the mood among some in the league was shifting.
“Hearing this today from a veteran CFL coach, waiting on the federal government response to league request for financial aid. ‘Optimism is out there’,” Barnes said.
The lack of a decision keeps the CFL season alive, but it will likely cost the league another of its star players. Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Shaq Evans said last week that he would assume season cancellation if nothing was announced by Friday. He is among a growing number of players angered by their treatment in negotiations, lack of communication from officials and refusal of pay.
For now the dream of a 2020 season lives on, but for some it is turning into a nightmare.