Edmonton Football Team President Chris Presson: ‘I’m confident we’ll be able to play in 2021’

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Football Team

Public statements from the CFL on its plan for the 2021 season have few and far between, but fans need not be worried that work isn’t being done behind the scenes.

At least, that’s what Edmonton Football Team President and CEO Chris Presson has to say. The soon-to-be renamed club’s top executive joined 630 CHED’s Morley Scott on Friday and had plenty to say on the league’s diligence behind the scenes.

“We work on it every day. We have weekly phone calls. We talk about it. We share plans across the league. We have our return-to-play plan written and we’ve had it written for quite some time,” Presson insisted.

“When I say quite some time, I mean probably five or six weeks. Now, the development around that, the characteristics that change day-to-day, will also change the plan. Clearly, we just want to make it as safe as possible for our players and our fans.”

That should bring some comfort to fans desperate for any sort of certainty about the league going forward. While the CFL has a plan, the public details are scarce and questions about whether or not fans will actually be able to attend remain largely unanswerable.

“I think we’ve modeled just about everything — from 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 percent to 25 percent to 50 percent — all the way up to full capacity, and are certainly working diligently around that. In order to make it work we need to specifically target a number that we know, once we flesh that out, we can either pursue a profit or manage the liability of the loss,” Presson explained.

“I think that’s where we are as teams, being realistic, trying to monitor the situation both provincially and federally and then to mimic what numbers we believe it will spit out on the other side to see if it’s sustainable for next year.”

The CFL, and Edmonton in particular, has one advantage when formulating return-to-play plans and petitioning governments.

“I think one of the biggest diamonds in the rough that we have to lean on is Dr. Naidu, who is our team doctor, but is also team doctor for the Oilers. He built the NHL bubble, also did the same for the World Juniors and continues to work with the NHL on what their return to-play-plan was when coming back to the season and over time what it will be,” said Presson.

“He’s our biggest advocate and he has a lot of credibility with the province, and with all the provinces.”

“We are planning to play and we are planning for that June start date, but then we are planning as well for any deviations to that. If once we get to May and things don’t look like they’ve improved, then we’ll have a plan to reverse course and do what we need to do.”

“I’m confident that we will have a plan that can work and I’m confident we’ll be able to play in 2021.”