CFL officially cancels 2020 season
WINNIPEG -- The Canadian Football League (CFL) is officially pulling the plug on a shortened 2020 season.
The league officially confirmed the news in a statement Monday morning.
“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a statement.
“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.”
The league lost more than $20 million last year and had recently sought a $30 million loan from Ottawa. In the statement, Ambrosie said the federal government suggested the league pursue a commercial loan which would be partially backed by Ottawa. However, Ambrosie said the loan was short-term and “very costly in terms of interest and fees.”
He also noted the CFL doesn't have deep pockets like the NBA and NHL, who have already returned to play.
"You know the financial resource they had at their disposal to throw a hub city, we obviously don't have and that's a little disheartening."
The CFL said the league depends heavily on attendance for revenue, compared to television and streaming deals other leagues have. Restrictions on gathering sizes have been limited as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 CFL was proposing a shortened season where the teams would play in Winnipeg under a bubble scenario. Winnipeg beat out bids from Calgary and Saskatchewan for the proposed shortened season.
The Manitoba government announced in July it would be investing $2.5 million into the bid.
In a statement to CTV News, Sports, Culture, and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox said, "Although we were ready to safely host the CFL this season, we understand the league's decision and look forward to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defending their Grey Cup title when the league returns to play," Cox said.
Cancelling the season will also have an impact on the Blue Bombers.
"It's disappointing for our players, fans, and all teams across the country. This is a challenging time and we weren't able to pull it off which is a disappointment to everyone involved," said Wade Miller, CEO of the Bombers.
The Bombers added the loss the team would have suffered this season would be the same whether they played or not.
This is will be the first time the Grey Cup will not be awarded since 1919.