CFL, players’ union at odds over 2022 financials which will create revenue-sharing baseline

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The CFL and its Players’ Association do not yet view the league’s 2022 financial statements the same way.

“Pursuant to the provisions of the CBA, the CFL provided 2022 revenue baseline numbers to the CFLPA on January 24, 2023. The CFLPA has invoked their right to conduct an audit of those numbers and the parties are working through the audit process to answer requests from the CFLPA audit firm,” said a CFL spokesperson.

As agreed to within the latest collective bargaining agreement, the players are supposed to receive revenue-sharing benefits in 2024 with the PA deciding on disbursement of revenue increases.

Union auditors, on multiple occasions, have requested information from the league office and it has not been provided. According to CFLPA president Solomon Elimimian, that caused the PA to file a grievance on November 7.

“We are protecting players’ rights by ensuring the policies and procedures contained within the collective agreement are followed by holding the CFL accountable to provisions in the CBA around revenue sharing and salary cap adjustments,” Elimimian said during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

“It’s concerning. And it’s concerning to have to tell our player reps and our players that we’re still waiting on the financial statements from 2022. That’s something we need to get in order to work through the baseline in terms of what portion (of revenue) the athletes will be able to get.”

Players are entitled to 25 percent of revenue in 2024 with staggered increases up to 30 percent until the end of the agreement. Grey Cup revenue — which had been excluded in the past — is supposed to be included in the revenue-sharing equation.

“We filed a grievance to make sure we get those numbers — 2022 baseline is still outstanding,” Elimimian said. “You can’t complete ’23 until we complete ’22.We’re running out of clock. We filed a grievance and I think that will help speed things up.”

CFL teams have to increase the players’ salary cap to $5,585,000 for the 2024 season, but that has nothing to do with revenue-sharing. Sharing in the league’s profits is designed to go directly into the players’ pockets and does not alter teams’ spending on salaries for athletes.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie trumpeted gameday revenue increases in Toronto (41.1), Montreal (13.5) and Vancouver (12.3) at his 2023 state of the league address. Regular season and playoff TV ratings are up as was attendance leading into the Grey Cup. The CFLPA wants its fair cut for the players while sharing in the success of the league as the main attraction.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.