Wade Miller says potential XFL partnership is not due to CFL’s financial struggles

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ President and CEO Wade Miller has denied that the CFL’s new potential partnership with the XFL is due to the league’s financial struggles.

The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million in 2020 after cancelling its season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“You would have discussions with this group at any time when you look at their track record of success in sports and global entertainment,” said Miller in an interview with 3DownNation. “I would think as a league we’d have these discussions regardless of whether we were in a pandemic or not.”

The CFL and XFL made a joint announcement on Wednesday regarding its formalized discussions. Miller shed some light on what those mean for the CFL.

“Right now it’s an exchange of ideas about the game — marketing, officiating, and our business. We just need to wait and see. I think what today is about is just being transparent with our fans to let them know that we’re having these discussions,” said Miller.

“The ultimate goal is to find a way to grow football. How can we innovate? We look at officiating, how we run our businesses, the overall business operations of the game and how we make football stronger in Canada and around North America.”

Miller is adamant that these discussions with the XFL will have no impact on the 2021 season. In the long-term, he won’t rule out the possibility of anything — even the CFL and XFL merging to become one league.

“Speculating on what the outcome could be when we’re starting the process? It’s just too early,” said Miller.

Miller is a Winnipeg native who played at the University of Manitoba before an eleven-year career with the Blue Bombers. He’s led the organization for the past seven years and works alongside fellow Canadians in general manager Kyle Walters and head coach Mike O’Shea. He understands the intrinsic value and uniqueness of the Canadian games, but feels the need to be proactive regarding future growth.

“I think what the CFL brings is rich tradition and rich history and heritage — a league that is steeped in that 108 years of who we are. But we need to grow our game of football and we need to look to do that,” said Miller.

“We need to innovate. We need to explore all those opportunities and when you are working with someone that understands what the CFL means with Dwayne Johnson, who’s played in the league himself, I think that’s a huge benefit.”

“Our league has played an important role for Canadians throughout the course of our history, so let’s see where this conversation takes us. We should be really optimistic and look forward to something that could be even greater than the CFL is right now after 2021.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.