CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has every idea on the table for returning to play next year.
Ambrosie told The Canadian Press: The league is examining all of its options to stage a 2021 season. Both the CFL and its member clubs have been looking at all of their options to return to the field in 2021.
“We are looking at a no-fan scenario, we’re looking at a couple of levels of limited fans. The most optimistic version of our plan is the vaccine is out and taking a positive footing and we’re looking at hub city again because you have to account for all of these things as possibilities,” Ambrosie told Dan Ralph.
“But the challenge we’re all facing, not just football, is that we don’t know where the pandemic is going to take us in the short to medium term. We’re going to look at every possible way to get back on the field, one way or the other we’re going to try to the best of our ability to figure out a way to do it.”
Ralph reports playing games before no fans or limited spectators are among the options being examined. Ambrosie hopes to be in a position to provide more details on the 2021 season next month.
The league had been working for months to play a six-game campaign with Winnipeg serving as its hub city in 2020. Those plans were scrapped after the federal government refused the league’s request for a $30-million interest-free loan. Ambrosie acknowledged the failure of the league to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is financial disparity among the CFL’s nine teams. The three community-owned clubs — Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Edmonton — turn consistent profits, while those in larger markets often struggle. Ambrosie was confident in August that all nine teams will return to the field in 2021, but believes part of the league’s recovery will be a more cooperative approach between its member clubs.
Ambrosie expects that revenues will be “soft” in 2021 given that the COVID-19 pandemic could still be ongoing. Government support would go a long way to helping the league regain its strength and there’s reason for optimism on that front.
The federal government rejected the CFL’s request for a $30-million interest-free loan, but that doesn’t mean they will let the league die. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault provided a statement to 3DownNation expressing his intention to ensure the league’s survival.
Ambrosie has optimism for the future but it’s impossible to predict what the world might be like come spring 2021.