After his bombshell report on Monday that CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has threatened teams with substantial fines if information from top level meetings continues to leak, Arash Madani is getting a little tired of the spin from the league.
While more recent reporting from TSN’s Dave Naylor has inferred that the fine system is standard protocol with a collective bargaining agreement negotiation on the horizon, Madani rejected that theory in an appearance on The Rod Pedersen Show.
“The fines have nothing to do with the CBA and the players. Let’s get that out of the way,” he insisted. “This was a reaction that the league office and the commissioner was upset with the reporting of what was happening in GM meetings and the presentation to governors.”
Those meetings featured a less-than-spectacular business plan presentation from commissioner Randy Ambrosie, one that Madani described at the time as “very similar” to the one made 18 months ago. Others contend that no official plan has been presented, but Madani believes that is due to a simple lack of action on the business front.
“When the CFL shut down in August, they said they’re going to use this time to really come together and put a business plan in place that is going to make sense for us. On that front, I’m not sure how much has been done,” Madani said. “They’re trying to figure out a way to play next year more than they’re trying to figure out a business plan.”
The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but even on the return-to-play front the CFL has made only minor progress. With the COVID-19 pandemic not going away any time soon, every plan is a moving target and every contingency must be examined.
“At this point, this is what I’m told: there have been some preliminary plans made in terms of mapping out ideas of how they can go about on a return to play for next year, based on some different scenarios,” Madani explained. “Trying to figure out if we’re allowed X number of fans, can this work and how are all the logistics of that going to work.”
That presents a difficult and troubling question for the CFL when it is making decisions about 2021.
“What’s the magic number in terms of percent capacity that would make financial sense for the CFL to return?” Madani asked.
While Madani refutes that threats of fines are CBA-related, those CBA talks will happen and they are going to be as contentious as ever. If 2021 goes ahead, it will be because the league made some serious concessions to the players.
“They’re going to go to the players and say, ‘We need to redo the CBA.’ If you’re the players — let’s remember that CBA goes through the end of 2021 — I’m saying, ‘What’s coming back my way?'” Madani said. “If the scenarios were reversed, I understand it’s a pandemic but you have to give something up if you’re the league. I’m intrigued to see what the league is willing to do.”
So is every CFL fan, as they wait with baited breath for the return of Canadian Football.