The CFL wanted to be treated different than every other Canadian citizen

There are over 37 million people who live in Canada and the CFL wanted to be treated as a special case.

Ever since commissioner Randy Ambrosie fumbled and stumbled his way through the league’s ask for up to $150 million in May, it was clear the CFL wanted a handout from the Canadian government — money on their terms — which was denied.

Well, that’s not how a “partnership” works, which is what Ambrosie described to the standing committee on finance on the infamous spring evening. The feds wanted to help, it’s just the CFL didn’t want to accept the terms.

According to sources, the league could have landed a loan, which had the potential to max out at $60 million over a four-year payback period. The interest rate would have increased each year, topping out in the seven percent range. The same loan financing programs are available for eligible businesses in the mid-market program. However, the league declined the offer and continued on its quest for interest-free money.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted livelihoods from coast to coast in our country and around the world. At home, the Canadian federal government created various programs for working citizens and businesses: the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and financing options. Millions of Canadians have used the available options to their benefit, the CFL included, but the league wanted more.

Each time prime minister Justin Trudeau went on record, stating he knows the CFL is important to many Canadians, the feds provided direct answers to inquiries. They always pointed to what had been made available by the government for financial aid.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault: “Sport Canada does not provide funding to for-profit independent leagues or goes outside of Football Canada’s mandate. We encourage organizations in need of assistance to talk to their financial institution and to see what options are available to them.” 

Our government will work with all Canadian organizations to adapt to the new realities of COVID-19. With respect to the CFL, officials continue to examine their requests to see where they may be able to fit in terms of existing emergency assistance programs,” office of the minister of small business said in a statement to 3DownNation.

It never mattered that the CFL lowered its request from the federal government — the catered solution wasn’t going to come. Just like a quarterback forcing a throw into coverage, it’s bound to be intercepted and end the drive. The league wanted to pressure the government and force their hand, but the result was already known.

Time ticked down with the CFL banging its head against the goal post and the feds were the ones who made a decision, even though they didn’t have the ball. If the three-down league was amenable during discussions with the Canadian government, football during the coronavirus crisis could have been possible. Although, when there were no halftime adjustments it should have been obvious: the CFL wants to play under only their own circumstances.

That’s completely fine, but there was and is help available — it just wasn’t what the league wanted.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.