Drafts of CFL schedule have Ontario teams and B.C. Lions on road for start of 2021 season

Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani has gathered intel on the drafts making the way around CFL front offices for the potential 2021 season.

The CFL has delayed its start date with a 14-game schedule targeted to kick-off on August 5, culminating in a currently planned December 12 Grey Cup. For the timeline to be met, the league requires ‘a significant number of fans’ to be allowed in stadiums by municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

B.C. and Ontario have clearly stated they have not signed off on any return to play proposals. The health and safety plans must be approved before football can be back on the field.

“The sense I’m getting is that there are no plans from the CFL side to play any Canadian Football in Ontario in the month of August. This is how it’s been explained to me. There have been a few drafts of the 2021 schedule sent around. And every draft has Ontario teams playing West,” Madani said on 620 CKRM’s The SportsCage.

“The latest draft, I’ve been told, has the B.C. Lions not being in Vancouver, especially early on in the season. Now I’m really starting to wonder if there might be a scenario if the Lions are going to play home games elsewhere, could it be on the prairies? Could it be on the rockies? Something like that, could that even be a possibility?”

The league and union began meetings during the second week of February with a focus on playing football this year. The two sides have submitted return to play health and safety plans to various levels of government in Canada and are working to finalize the protocols with six provinces before getting the final stamp from the nation’s capital.

“The way it’s been explained to me is that the first few weeks of the latest draft of the CFL schedule, the Ontario teams are not scheduled to play home games, they’re not scheduled to play home games for a while,” Madani said.

“I’m having a hard time believing that B.C.’s going to approve anything until September at the earliest. I still think August 5 is ambitious. It still sounds like the government is nowhere near approving anything.”

Last year, the league office and players’ association had constructed a plan to play in a hub city in Winnipeg. However, after the feds declined to give the CFL a $30-million interest-free loan, it was ultimately decided by the board of governors the 2020 season would be cancelled.

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