Ramsay says CFLPA's focus is exhausting all options for safe 2020 CFL campaign

TORONTO — Executive director Brian Ramsay says the CFL Players' Association is focused on exhausting all options for a safe 2020 season.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie told season-ticket holders during a video conference Wednesday the earliest the league could start the 2020 season was September. But Ambrosie also stated a cancelled '20 campaign remains a possibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"It (abbreviated season) is one of the scenarios we're pursuing," Ambrosie said. "But the truth is I think when we're done, we're going to be able to say more or less we exhausted all possibilities.

"What you have to do at the end is narrow it down to those that represent the best chance to play if we can and if not to make sure we're ready to play in '21 and beyond."

The CFL and CFLPA have resumed talks on potential contingency plans for the 2020 season. However, the harsh reality is only two options remain: Playing an '20 abbreviated campaign, or none at all.

"The players want nothing more than to play in the CFL in 2020 if it is deemed safe to do so," Ramsay said in an email. "Our fans across the country deserve this.

"We need a commitment from the CFL that they have that same desire and we should be going together to government to seek support in a variety of ways for a 2020 season to happen in one form or another."

The CFL has approached the federal government for financial assistance. It's three-phase proposal includes $30 million immediately, more monies if there's an abbreviated season and up to an additional $120 million in the event of a cancelled campaign.

The challenge facing both the CFL and CFLPA is the prospect of having to play games with no spectators. The league's nine franchises rely heavily upon gate receipts for their existence.

Ambrosie said the CFL has looked into a hub-city approach for the 2020 season. While he didn't divulge specific details, Ambrosie admitted, "What stands out on this particular issue is just how many moving parts there are.

"That doesn't mean it's not a viable option," he added. "It just means there's a lot of moving parts."

Ambrosie also announced a Grey Cup change. If there's a 2020 season, the Grey Cup finalist with the best regular-season record will host the CFL final.

Regina was scheduled to be the host city this year but was awarded the 2022 Grey Cup. Hamilton will stage next season's event.

Regina would still be the site for this year's Grey Cup if the Saskatchewan Roughriders were the finalist with the better regular-season mark.

Ambrosie said the CFL is keeping all possibilities open before deciding what's next.

"The best thing we can do is explore every option because in the end failure is not an option," he said. "We're not going to allow ourselves to be knocked down by this crisis.

"We have to be open to conversations with everyone. The timeline is when we believe we know everything we need to know to make the right decision. It's not so much a timeline based on a calendar, it's a timeline based upon information."

Ambrosie has stated publicly the novel coronavirus has created a difficult and challenging situation for not only pro sports but most every facet of life. And it's an opinion Ramsay said the CFLPA shares.

"There is no doubt we are still in the midst of challenging times across the globe," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020.

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