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Rick Zamperin: CFL tosses up a ‘Hail Mary’ that it hopes Prime Minister Trudeau will answer

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has asked the federal government for financial assistance amid the COVID-19 crisis.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has asked the federal government for financial assistance amid the COVID-19 crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Canadian Football League has thrown a ‘Hail Mary’ and it is hoping the Trudeau government makes a play that will save it from financial ruin.

The CFL has its hand out for a federal government bail out amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but the idea is not being well received in the court of public opinion.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie has asked Ottawa for up to $150 million in the event the COVID-19 crisis forces it to cancel the 2020 season, $30 million of which would be used immediately to manage the financial impact the pandemic has had on the league and additional money would go towards playing an abbreviated regular season this year.

READ MORE: Canadian Football League asks government for $150M in assistance amid COVID-19

Ambrosie says the league’s long-term future would be in peril if the 2020 season was scrapped.

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The likelihood of this season ever getting off the ground is growing more remote with each passing day, and it became more bleak after Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled the province’s road map to lifting COVID-19 related restrictions on Monday, which stated large gatherings — such as concerts and sporting events — would not be held for the ‘foreseeable future.’

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says ‘discussions ongoing’ with CFL over possible financial support' Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says ‘discussions ongoing’ with CFL over possible financial support
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says ‘discussions ongoing’ with CFL over possible financial support – Apr 29, 2020

During his daily media briefing in Ottawa on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said support for the league is an “important issue” for the CFL and its fans.

And he’s right, because it’s quite obvious that without a massive influx of money right now the league is not in a position to put on a season.

READ MORE: CFL Players’ Association prepares players for life after football

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Some people will argue that the CFL isn’t as important as some make it out to be, but I would argue that point based on the thousands of people that I have come across that love the league, its players, its history, and the cultural significance that it has had in this country for generations.

However, the part of this proposed bail out that I, and countless others, can’t get behind is that the CFL is not offering to pay back the bail out — at least not with money.

Click to play video 'Premier Kenney on fate of CFL and NHL sports in Alberta this summer' Premier Kenney on fate of CFL and NHL sports in Alberta this summer
Premier Kenney on fate of CFL and NHL sports in Alberta this summer – Apr 29, 2020

The league is promising to pay back the government by offering its players and teams to deliver initiatives that tackle issues like domestic violence and bullying, and promote tourism.

The issue is that the league already does that.

So what exactly will Canadian taxpayers get in return for the federal government’s multi-million dollar bail out?

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The answer: watching CFL games being played in empty stadiums, and having a little less money in their bank account that they could possibly use at a future game.