Canadian Football League fans are breathing a sigh of relief now that the season should kickoff as scheduled after the league and the players’ association reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday.
The contract replaces a five-year contract that was set to expire Saturday.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers player and now 680 CJOB football commentator Doug Brown said getting the deal formalized was close to the wire.
“They seemed more organized than ever,” Brown said. “They had a strike vote. They had direction to their membership to not report if the CBA hadn’t been ratified and they didn’t have a new deal. They were very organized and on top of their communication base. They also had everyone buying into the not reporting to training camp if they couldn’t reach a deal. That level of ominous threat I hadn’t seen before.”
Bob Irving, voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on 680 CJOB, echoed the comments, saying there was a real threat players wouldn’t participate in training camp when it opened Sunday.
“There was fear that there might be a shutdown or at least a delay in the start of the pre-season and who knows how long that might have lasted,” he said.
“The pressure was ramped up the last few days in terms of the negotiating when the two sides appeared to be quite a distance apart, but that happens when you get close to the deadline in a labour situation and that’s when the compromising gets serious and the two sides work very hard. I know they were meeting in Toronto day and night over the last three days to try and get this resolved.”
Some season seat holders waited until the news of the deal spread before picking up their tickets.
“I thought well, if they’re going to go on strike, then I probably won’t have any use for my tickets,” fan Karin Woods said.
Other fans are looking forward to an exciting CFL season.
“I enjoy the game, the atmosphere and everything,” season ticket holder Harry Sirett said. “I’m looking forward to the Grey Cup parade.”
The contact is pending ratification by the players and approval from the league’s board of governors.