Alouettes president Mario Cecchini wants extension of wage subsidy program, won’t rule out 18-game season

The CFL may not be receiving an interest free loan from the federal government this year, but Montreal Alouette’s president Mario Cecchini does have request for Justin Trudeau and his cabinet when it comes to helping out the Canadian institution.

“What I want is that when the federal budget adjustment is presented (early next week), if they can extend the wage subsidy and assistance for our fixed costs until the end of December, that would help,” he told Frederic Daigle of La Presse Canadienne.

In 2020, the league asked for a $30 million interest-free loan, however, it was denied by the feds. That answer ultimately led the board of governors voting to cancel the season. The league has stated it never stopped discussions with the federal government since the denial last August.

There was still government money that helped the league’s franchises last year. For example, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers collected $3.1 million in aid from the government, including $2.9 million from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy.

If the rest of the teams and league office collected similar amounts, which is a reasonable assumption without seeing the accounting numbers, the total would come in over $30 million.

The Alouettes wants that money to continue as the league grapples with loses of up to $80 million as a result of the canceled season.

“It would be an important move for everyone, not just the CFL,” Cecchini said. “COVID-19 continues and we are still at zero income, apart from clothing and promotional items. That’s our reality.”

Talks with the government remain ongoing on both financials and public health, with the CFL needing to open its books to access existing government programs. 

In the meantime, the CFL is still struggling with the launch of the 2021 season, with a postponement expected to be announced next week. Still Cecchini won’t rule out a full season.

“I can’t talk about a specific scenario, but we’re looking at all the hypotheses. Are 18 games still possible? At this point in the discussions, I cannot say that it is impossible,” he shared.

“The idea is to see how discussions with players progress and what kinds of accommodations can be made to the calendar. Certainly everyone wants to play as many games as possible.”

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