Earlier today the CFL officially announced what we all knew, that the league would be postponing the start of its upcoming 2021 season. As of now, the CFL is targeting a return-to-play on August 5th, with the Grey Cup being pushed out until December 12th. The league is looking to facilitate a 14-game season, but that could change if the start-date gets delayed again.
With all of the news out in the open, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie caught up with CFL.ca to talk through some of the topical items; including the ongoing discussions with the XFL.
When asked how the CFL came up with the August 5th date, Ambrosie responded “I’ve been described as an unabashed optimist, so you can count me as a guy that is very optimistic. How we came to (the start date) really came from guidance in our ongoing discussions with public health officials.”
The league has been working very closely with the Canadian government and health officials on how to rollout the season. Essentially, this buys the CFL some more time. Ambrosie says they should know a lot more by early June on how COVID could further impact things.
In regards to if we could see a full cancelation as we did in 2020, Ambrosie states that the league has contingency plans in place and that there should be a season in one form or another thins year. The CFL is still working through the schedules, a lot of which comes down to logistics. League officials will start by getting stadium availability and work directly with the teams from there to finalize everything.
It’s going to take a little bit of time. It starts by getting stadium availability dates and working collaboratively with the teams. It is our hope that we’ll have some good news on a more specific schedule before too long.
It seems that the league may even be considering some bubble scenarios with the East teams in one location and the West in another. Ambrosie says that this is why August 5th is a good date, it allows the league time to see how COVID evolves throughout the summer.
Ambrose also address the other HUGE elephant in the room, the discussions between the CFL and XFL. When asked how the talks are going, he responds that they’ve been positive and they’re still focused on understanding what this opportunity could look like.
CFL.ca: Are there any updates on your discussions with the XFL and is there a chance that they can factor into this 2021 season?
RA: Our discussions with the XFL have been very positive. What we’re focused on is really understanding what this opportunity might look like. If I back up from there, one of the things that I shared with an alumni group that I spoke with at their annual general meeting last night was what has become increasingly obvious to me is that the business of our league has never been as good as the players who play our game and the game itself.
What we’re looking at and what we’ve been working on on our own is improving our business model. We’ve made a lot of adjustments in the past number of months to make sure that we’ve got the best business model possible. The discussions with the XFL are really focused on that. How would working together help to improve the business model? When you get that answer, you have nearly an infinite list of possibilities on how you would make it work. What our fans really deserve and what our amateur football partners really deserve is a business that’s as good as our game. That’s what we’re working to deliver here.
We don’t have those answers today but we do know that we are working with world class people. Every time you are on a call with them, you are struck by how genuine, authentic, how sincere they are in trying to determine if there is an opportunity to do better, do better together in some form. That’s been the spirit of our discussion so far.
With the XFL on the sidelines for 2021 and possibly 2022, there’s a lot of new eyes on the CFL product this year. Although the season has been delayed, it seems that league officials are confident that we’ll see a CFL season at some point this year. As of now, the target is August 5th, but anything could happen in the world of COVID.
Do you think the CFL will be able to kickoff August 5th? Will you be tuning in? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.