The flashy spending around CFL free agency has many fans and prognosticators optimistic about the prospect of a 2021 CFL season, but some close to the league remain unconvinced.
Edmonton Sun reporter Gerry Moddejonge reported the sentiments of an anonymous source “familiar with the league at an executive level” and their feelings were anything but positive.
“To be frank with you, I don’t even know this year if it’s plausible for them to play with the (COVID-19) numbers and everything the way they are. It would honestly be, to me, smarter for them to forego another season and plan for 2022,” the source said.
Two canceled seasons would potentially be devastating, but Moddejonge’s high-level source believes there are benefits as well. With instability in B.C. and fresh ownership in Montreal, another year would allow those teams to reset while a long-term deal with the players could be more easily hashed out given time. Most importantly, it would guarantee packed stadiums.
“It would give you a chance for the fan base to be vaccinated and get their butts in seats, versus not having everybody vaccinated and pushing for people to do these large-crowd and large-venue gatherings,” the source explained.
“So, to me, the planning and ability to pull it off very successfully for the long-term, would be better right now if they forego even the 2021 season and then went and did the 2022.”
In a league filled with uncertainty, a canceled 2021 season would allow for a complete reset that would usher the CFL into the next chapter with a long-term plan in place.
“Just make it kind of a complete rebuild, every team has a chance to rebuild, regroup, redo. They’ll know what the salary cap is for the next four or five years if they get the right deal in place so then they can plan with a player contract appropriately,” the source said.
Randy Ambrosie has promised plenty of football in 2021 and fans would have a hard time swallowing anything less than that guarantee, but the source insists his idea isn’t simply speculation. Look no further than the Edmonton Football Team, currently being run by a skeleton crew without any of the essential personnel hired to pull off a season.
“All the other clubs have put a good face on, to be frank. They’ve kept their staff, they’ve kept their coaches – all at reduced fees, and they’ll have to take a little bit of a pay cut – but Edmonton’s the only one that let everybody go and furloughed everybody,” he revealed.
“And also, Edmonton’s the only team that has done the biggest slashes to their whole organization. So, if they start rehiring then I’ll believe the season’s imminent. Just like the league office, they let a lot of people go and until they start rehiring I won’t think there’s a season imminent, on the forefront.”
Edmonton could be the canary in the coal mine for the 2021 season and fans will be watching with bated breath. While football this season is what everybody wants, the source insists that another year off is really what’s needed.
“Take the year to plan for 2022 and get it right so you can have a focused format for years to come,” he said. “And then when the CFL comes back, it’s not, ‘OK, this is what we’re doing this year as a Band-aid.”