The CFL board of governors are out of people to blame if a 2021 season does not go ahead after the vote on Monday, June 14.
The players’ association has ratified a memorandum of agreement with the league’s players representation committee. Both sides agreed to amendments made to the current collective bargaining agreement to make it possible for games to be played this year — the athletes just want to know where and when.
No blaming the players.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie ultimately serves — and was hired by — the board of governors. He does not have the autonomy or authority to force each and every franchise to play football in 2021. As much as the now infamous $150 million ask from the Canadian government hurt the league’s attempt to play last year, that’s in the past.
No blaming Ambrosie.
The appropriate levels of government in Canada have given the green light to two comparable pro leagues north of the border, the Canadian Elite Basketball League and Canadian Premier League. Those blueprints provide a clear pathway to put football on the field. Yes, operating a CFL team requires more people and investment, but those young leagues got it done.
Former CFLer and current CEBL commissioner Mike Morreale expects to be among the first Canadian leagues to welcome fans back to venues in the coming months — indoors. Approvals of their plan from public health officials in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have been received, ensuring the season will begin as scheduled on June 24 in seven cities across the country.
No blaming the Canadian government.
There will be nine votes at the board of governors meeting and any vote against ratifying the MOA with the players should be transparent and come with the appropriate scrutiny. If a head coach makes a bone-headed decision, a quarterback throws a game-ending pick-six or a kicker misses a chip-shot field goal for the win, all need to own up to it.
The same needs to happen for the owners.
It’s impossible to predict the vote, but for what it’s worth, the five teams represented on the league’s PRC are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Toronto Argonauts, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Calgary Stampeders, and B.C. Lions. Ticats’ CEO Scott Mitchell, Argos’ president Bill Manning, Bombers’ CEO and president Wade Miller, Stampedes’ president John Hufnagel, and Lions’ president Rick LeLacheur were the main people who negotiated the COVID-19 CBA with the players.
That provides at least a hint: if the three representatives agreed to the terms of return to play, it’s fair to surmise those teams would be comfortable with the arrangement proceeding. The only time a CBA was brought back to the board of governors and denied was August 2020. It marked the first time since 1919 that the Grey Cup wasn’t awarded.
The community-owned teams and private owners are going to lose money in 2021 regardless of whether or not games are held. However, the fans who have supported the CFL passionately for decades — collectively investing millions — deserve a season after missing the beloved three-down brand of football last year. Those loyal supporters helped the Grey Cup be awarded for a century and are calling for a new streak to begin in earnest.
It’s almost August. Let’s drop the question mark from the popular phrase and put punctuation with certainty attached: #ItIsAugust!