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Rick Zamperin: CFL sacks 2020 plan, league looking forward to 2021

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 season on Monday, Aug. 17. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

With losses into the millions of dollars continuing to mount during the coronavirus pandemic and the crystal clear realization that the federal government was unwilling to play ball, the Canadian Football League has punted its idea of a shortened season this fall.

The last domino fell Monday when CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 season, cementing the realization that the Grey Cup will not be presented to the league’s champion for the first time since 1919.

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Citing “the best long-term interests of the CFL,” Ambrosie said the league is going to “concentrate on the future” and its “vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”

The writing was on the wall back in April when Ambrosie asked the federal government for a $150-million bailout in the event the season was scrapped due to COVID-19 and was quickly shooed away by the House of Commons Finance Committee.

Read more: CFL 2020 season officially cancelled

With no fans allowed in the stands, the main source of revenue for each of the CFL’s nine clubs instantly vanished and government assistance was the only avenue the league went down to allow it to stay afloat and hold a truncated season in Winnipeg as a hub city.

Apart from its ill-fated 2020 funding model, the pandemic also brought to light how big of a rift there is between the CFL and the Players’ Association.

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The two sides failed to come to terms on a revised collective bargaining agreement for a shortened season and numerous players have vented their frustration on social media over the last number of months about a lack of clarity from the league on its go-forward plan.

But as Ambrosie looks toward “a bigger, stronger, more global CFL,” one can only question what that will look like and how long will it take to get there?

Click to play video 'CJFL cancels 2020 season due to COVID-19 pandemic' CJFL cancels 2020 season due to COVID-19 pandemic
CJFL cancels 2020 season due to COVID-19 pandemic – Aug 6, 2020

The CFL obviously doesn’t have a war chest to enable it to hobble through tough economic times and it is just as clear that many of its teams will be hanging by a thread if the pandemic’s second wave, or future waves, bleed into 2021.

Getting bigger, stronger and more global are great goals, but the Canadian Football League should first think about doing business more efficiently than it ever has before it tries to take even one step forward.

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Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.