Former TSN reporter Gary Lawless can see through the public relations speak being touted by CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
Lawless is a savvy media veteran and knows there is more to the story than either the three-down league or XFL want to let on.
“I don’t believe for a second that they are talking about talking. They didn’t talk to the players’ association when they began these conversations and they’re well down the road in these conversations, that’s what I believe. You’re not pausing your season to talk about marketing collaboration,” Lawless said on The Rod Pedersen Show.
“You’re pausing your season because you’re talking about a full blown merger, what that would look like, where there is advantages for both sides in that. We can debate the logic of a merger, but I don’t think we should be debating that’s what they’re talking about because that’s what they’re talking about. That to me is plain as day.”
The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million last year and are set to lose millions more if any kind of season is played in 2021. After the Canadian government refused to provide a $30 million interest-free loan a year ago, the CFL is looking elsewhere for financial help.
“I love the CFL, I wish it was viable, but it’s not viable. Toronto hasn’t worked, Montreal doesn’t work anymore, BC doesn’t work. Ottawa works, but when I say work, what’s the most money the Riders ever made in a year? That’s the one operation in Canada where if you’re a really rich guy you look at it and go OK, I’d be willing to own that,” Lawless said.
“It’s a shame that it’s come to this, but I think that if we had truth serum from a number of CFL owners, and I would guess it’s Montreal, B.C. and Toronto where they lose money all the time, they’re probably tired of where the business has been, where it is, and they’re looking at where it’s going and they’re scratching their heads.”
The Rock, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital were selected as the winning bidder last August for all of the assets of Alpha Entertainment LLC, the parent company of the XFL. It cost $15 million and the goal is to make the XFL a stable league in the future. The CFL has been awarding the Grey Cup for over 100 years. Meanwhile, the original XFL lasted one full season in 2001 and five games in 2020.
“If you had to pin me down and make me guess what’s going to happen, in 2022 there will be an 18-team league, playing four-down football, with no ratio, what the league is called I wouldn’t know — in 2022, that’s what they’re striving to,” Lawless said.
“I have to believe that’s what Toronto would want, I know that’s what the guys in Montreal want. I don’t know why they bought the Alouettes to be honest with you because I don’t think they want to be a part of the CFL, they want to be part of something different, and this is that opportunity.”