The Canadian Football League’s 2020 season is officially cancelled.
“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement Monday.
“We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”
Season ticket holders will be contacted by their clubs about what will be done with their deposits.
For the past two weeks, the Canadian Football League and Ottawa had been in talks to approve a $30-million, interest-free loan.
The league maintained it required government funding to stage a shortened season in Winnipeg, the chosen hub city.
The CFL’s board of governors met on Monday to decide if the lack of secure federal funding would end hopes for a 2020 season.
The CFL sent Ottawa its $30-million loan request Aug. 3. It was a reduction from the $44-million amended requisition it presented last month.
The CFL first approached the government in April for up to $150 million in assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The league and its governors worked tirelessly to explore options to enable play in 2020. However, despite months of discussions, the government ultimately declined the CFL’s appeal for financial support,” the CFL said in its statement.
“Even with additional support, our owners and community-held teams would have had to endure significant financial losses to play in 2020,” Ambrosie said.
“Without it, the losses would be so large that they would really hamper our ability to bounce back strongly next year and beyond. The most important thing is the future of our league.”
The $30-million, interest-free loan request was essentially the league’s last-ditch effort to secure government support for an abbreviated 2020 season.
A shortened campaign would have seen CFL teams play six regular-season games apiece — a third of a traditional campaign.
The games would have been played in Winnipeg as the CFL’s hub city and players would have isolated, much like NHL players.
Ambrosie said the federal government did suggest a commercial loan, but the nature of the loan was too costly and short-term.
“This outcome after months of discussions with government officials is disappointing. But we’re focused now on the long-term future and we will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments in that context.”
Canadian Hertiage Minister Steven Guilbeault said he was “disappointed” the CFL decided to cancel their season.
“I understand this was a difficult decision to make, especially with regards to the League’s talented athletes, devoted staff and football fans across Canada.”
The minister said the federal government worked with the CFL to “try to find a solution” within the current COVID-19 emergency response programs.
“Although the League was able to benefit from some of these programs, its Board members ultimately made the decision not to pursue the upcoming season.”
The Montreal Alouettes issued a statement, saying the league and the team “will come back even stronger in 2021.”
“I can assure everyone that this decision wasn’t an easy one to take,” said team president Mario Cecchini. “We believe however that the decision was taken in the best interest of the future of this league and its teams.”