Redblacks’ GM Marcel Desjardins hopes for 2021 direction from league office by end of November

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins doesn’t want to focus on what could have been in 2020, instead he wants direction for 2021.

The CFL board of governors voted against playing this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the decision to cancel the season was made, the league has been focused on putting football back on the field when the calendar turns over.

“The league office is working on finalizing what the right approach, the right vision, the right path is for the CFL next year. It’s keeping us from being able to sign players for next year,” Desjardins said on TSN radio 1200 in Ottawa.

“For us the challenge becomes knowing with certainty when the season starts just from a financial standpoint, what your commitments would have to be with players from a new contract standpoint.”

Ideally, coronavirus spread would be contained by next spring and fans could pack stadiums, but that’s far from likely. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated the league is exploring all options for returning to play in 2021.

“I hope we have an answer here certainly by the end of the month so that we can start going. I know everybody is going to do what is in the best interest of the CFL, particularly in these circumstances,” Desjardins said.

“It’s in the hands of the league office, I know they’re talking to the [CFL Players’ Association] about a lot of this stuff and I’m sure they’ll figure out what’s best for the big picture.”

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 CFL’s request for a $30-million interest-free loan. Ambrosie acknowledged failure for the lack of a season this year.

“People made decisions for the reasons that they made them and we have to deal with it moving forward. It’s unfortunate for everybody, players, coaches, personnel, the fans in particular, and media too,” Desjardins said.

“It’s disappointing but it’s not like anybody intentionally just threw a season away. It’s unfortunate but we have to look ahead and try to position ourselves to be as effective and efficient as possible once we’re given a green light as to what next year will look like.”