Argos’ president Bill Manning: ‘we can be playing in front of fans maybe in July, August, even into September’

Screenshot courtesy: Toronto Argos

Toronto Argonauts president Bill Manning feels there is a chance fans could be back in the stands for CFL games sooner rather than later.

Manning knows the big question for the 2021 season is whether the league will be able to put butts in seats.

“That is critical to our business in the CFL. You’re starting to see movement, especially in the United States with fans in the stands,” Manning said on Sportsnet The Fan 590 radio in Toronto.

“If things go in the right direction for us, hopefully this summer we can be playing in front of fans maybe in July, August, even into September, that is the plan. That’s when without a doubt the CFL will be playing, so I’m confident that we’re going to be playing this year.”

The CFL unveiled its 2021 schedule in November with the pre-season scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 23, while the regular season is slated to get underway on Thursday, June 10, and the Grey Cup in Hamilton on Sunday, November 21.

“I am confident that we’re going to play football this year, I really am. The provincial bodies right now are really starting to look at finding solutions for the sports teams, and especially the CFL because we don’t have to cross the border, so it’s much easier,” Manning said.

“Instead of roadblocks because everyone is more knowledgable now of this virus, we’re trying to find a way. I definitely see a light here at the end of the tunnel to get back playing football.”

Meanwhile, CFL and XFL owners Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital have agreed to work together to identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football. Manning is in favour of the exploratory talks with The Rock and his partners.

“With the Argos, here in Toronto, we’re trying to grow this team in a big market that has other big teams in it,” Manning said. “If some kind of relationship with the XFL helps us in Toronto, we’re all for it.”