Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated multiple times since the 2020 season was cancelled that the CFL wanted to reset its business model.
“We’ve done more work on that than the league has done in 50 years. We’re going to make substantial improvements to our business model starting this year and running through years to come,” Ambrosie said on The Green Zone.
Ambrosie has done it by cutting nearly half the staff at the league office, lowering the football operations cap, and the directing each franchise to spend to the salary cap floor for the 2021 season, reducing player compensation.
Sources have told Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press that the year long absence has cost the three-down league somewhere between $60 and $80 million dollars, though the CFL has not yet unveiled its official financial results.
The decision to cancel last season came after the federal government refused support for a $30 million interest-free loan to fund a hub city in Winnipeg. The league’s precarious financial position might require government support once again. Unlike 2020 however, the CFL won’t leave it all up to a hand out.
“Right now, June 10 we will kick-off, that’s our plan. We’re looking at every possible scenario that we can be flexible if necessary to make a season happen,” Ambrosie said.
“We want to play, we want to get our players out on the field. We’re hoping the vaccine roll outs begin to accelerate because there’s nothing like a CFL game with fans — but right now I’m just feeding off the energy from our board of governors.”
The massive losses have the CFL trying to find a way to play in 2021 and put fans in the stands to return their primary source of revenue. The CFL unveiled its 2021 schedule back in November. The pre-season is scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 23, while the regular season is slated to get underway on Thursday, June 10.
“Is it possible that there’s a few weeks of the season where we maybe don’t have fans? That’s a scenario that we’re talking about and then maybe after that governments will start to allow larger gatherings and we get 25-30 per cent of our stadiums filling up,” Ambrosie said.
“We’re talking about playing in our stadiums, we’re talking about playing in our stadiums with a smaller group of fans and then we’re hoping that as the season goes along, people are vaccinated and they are desperately wanting CFL football.”
With as many questions facing the league now as there were a year ago and some anonymous sources drawing ire for suggesting a 2021 season may not be plausible, Ambrosie insists there is only one possible outcome for the CFL.