‘Who’s blowing smoke?’: CFLPA vice-president John Bowman wants board of governors’ vote televised

The CFL’s board of governors will hold the fate of the CFL in their hands when they gather to vote on the proposed August 5 start to the 2021 season on Monday, June 14 and one prominent member of CFLPA leadership wants fans to be in the room when it happens.

“Great way for CFL to gain some attention and some eyes. Let TSN live stream the BOG meeting Monday so we can see who wants to play and who’s blowing smoke!!” union vice-president John Bowman tweeted early Friday. “If they all want to play it should be good right??!!! #Transparency”

In late April, the CFL 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.

That has not been formally granted at this point and teams will have to vote on how to proceed using their best educated guess. While most experts anticipate a unanimous vote to go forward with the season, the lack of clarity has added an element of uncertainty.

The player’s association firmly put the ball in the owner’s court late Thursday when they announced the ratification of an amended collective bargaining agreement for the shortened 2021 season, providing complete buy-in from the players. The board of governors will also be voting to ratify that agreement on Monday.

“We eagerly anticipate the CFL now making the right decision to get the season going while maintaining the highest player safety standards,” CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay said in a release announcing the new agreement.

The organization’s vice-president now wants decisionmakers on full display when they cast that deciding ballot.

After the Canadian government refused to provide a $30 million interest-free loan a year ago, the board of governors voted to cancel the 2020 season. The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million in 2020 and are set to lose millions more if any kind of season is played in 2021.

Teams have been much more vocal about their commitment to play this time around, with the MLSE-led Toronto Argonauts viewed as the most hesitant voice in the room. Fans and players are mounting pressure to name and shame if any team dissents to football this season, with Bowman believing a TV camera is the right path to ensure full commitment.

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