Arash Madani calls CFL teams limiting 2021 player salaries to cap floor ‘blatant collusion’

Photo courtesy: Sportsnet

Does the CFL stand for the Collusion Football League?

Arash Madani joined Derek Taylor on 620 CKRM radio in Regina on Tuesday discuss 3DownNation insider Justin Dunk’s report that the CFL is working to direct teams to spend only to the salary floor in 2021.

“Fundamentally, from a business point of view, this is collusion. This is blatant collusion,” said Madani. “Yes, there’s a salary floor and a salary cap but for nine businesses to get together and say, ‘We are going to operate under that threshold,’ the people I spoke with today who are a lot smarter than me in the business world say that’s absolutely collusion.”

The current collective bargaining agreement runs until the beginning of training camp in the spring of 2022. Included in the current framework is a salary cap of $5.35 million and a minimum salary spend of $4.75 million. Spending only to the salary floor would allow teams to each save $600,000 — $5.4 million collectively — without renegotiating the CBA.

Photo courtesy: Sportsnet

While the concept of colluding to not spend beyond the salary floor works in theory, Madani is skeptical that teams will abide by a potential agreement when push comes to shove.

“Let’s say the (2021 CFL) season’s gonna happen and you’re a team in the thick of it. You’re 8-4 with six games to play and the league constitution says we have a cap. I know we had the gentlemen’s agreement there on the floor, but the same people who needed a cap — the same people who look for every single corner and turn to cheat where they can — are now going to abide by a gentlemen’s agreement when they’re that close to making a run for a championship?”

“If they’ve had some injuries or if a good player’s available from an NFL cut, we’re to believe that, ‘No, no, we’re not gonna go make our football team better when a Brandon Zylstra might be coming north because in a Zoom meeting we decided in November — like nine, ten months ago — that this is what we’re going to do.'”

Madani is critical of how the league has elected not to preemptively engage with the players regarding a financial model for 2021 and beyond.

“They (the CFL) could sit down with the players’ association. Remember how (CFL commissioner) Randy (Ambrosie) said that he wanted to be partners with them? Remember when Randy said, ‘I wake up every morning thinking about them and their families’? You could sit down with your players’ association and amend the CBA and work together on something with them and try to come to a solution with them for everything. Or you could just be judge, jury, and executioner and that’s the method they apparently want to take.”

The Sportsnet reporter warns that this collusion could be the first of many things to come as the CFL looks to fix its business model in a post-pandemic world.

“I think this is the beginning of something much bigger. I think this is the beginning of how the CFL is going to look to just whack the salary cap and bring that down moving forward,” said Madani. “I think they’re going to use this as the catalyst to continue to do what they’ve done with the players for quite some time and I don’t see that cap being $5.3 million for quite awhile.”