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Canadian Football League submits revised financial request to federal government

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie speaks at a news conference in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The CFL sent federal Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a revised revised financial request Friday.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie speaks at a news conference in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The CFL sent federal Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a revised revised financial request Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The CFL has sent Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a revised financial request.

A CFL source said Friday the league is seeking roughly $42.5 million in aid. In April, it asked the federal government for up to $150 million in financial assistance in the event of a cancelled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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At the time, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the league was anxious “to be accountable to taxpayers,” and would attempt to repay a portion of government assistance through “community programs, tourism promotion, the Grey Cup, our digital channels.”

The source added the new request is to cover operating costs and player salaries for a shortened 2020 season. The proposal also includes a letter of support from the CFL Players’ Association.

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The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither the government nor CFL have confirmed the request.

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Last month, the CFL and CFLPA began talks to amend the current collective bargaining agreement to allow for an abbreviated season. The two sides must sign off on any changes for any games to be played.

But prior to the start of negotiations, the CFL presented the union with a memo outlining the conditions it wanted and a completion deadline of July 23.

Less money than original ask

When asked about the revised financial request, the CFL said, “We continue discussions with the federal government including discussions on our possible return to play.”

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While the revision is for substantially less money, the CFL’s situation hasn’t changed much. It still requires financial assistance with revenues having dropped drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expenses expected to continue to rise if it tries to play a season with no fans.

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The CFL’s initial request of Ottawa consisted of three tiers: It called for $30 million immediately to manage the impact the outbreak has had on league business; additional assistance for an abbreviated regular season; and up to another $120 million in the event of a lost 2020 campaign.

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When Ambrosie spoke to a federal standing committee on finance in May, he was roundly criticized for failing to stipulate where the funds would go and not involving the CFLPA in the process.

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But the source said the revised proposal mirrors an authentic financial offer and contains more specific details than the original one did.

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The earliest an abbreviated ’20 season will begin is September, but Ambrosie has stated a cancelled campaign also remains possible.

If the CFL holds a shortened season, it’s expected to do so in a hub city.

Winnipeg has been mentioned as a strong hub candidate, but the source said Regina also is under consideration.

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