The Canadian Football League has, for the second year in a row, asked the federal government for financial aid in order to return to play.
Last year, the league asked for a $30 million interest-free loan but was denied by the federal government. Consequently, the board of governors voted to cancel the season. Since last August, the league has been in continuous discussion to restart the league .
“The CFL was looking for a $30 million interest-free loan or nothing — that was their prerogative,” one government source said.
"There was still government money that helped the league’s franchises last year. For example, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers collected $3.1 million in aid from the government, including $2.9 million from the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. If the rest of the teams and league office collected similar amounts, which is a reasonable assumption without seeing the accounting numbers, the total would come in over $30 million — it’s unclear how much of those funds went to the players," reported 3DownNation.
However, just because the government said no to the CFL’s ultimatum doesn’t mean they didn’t pitch in. The $30 million would be a starting price tag for the league — the same amount they asked for at the finish line last year. Initially, Ambrosie asked for as high as $150 million — to much criticism.
“I get it, we’ve put out a quarter-of-a-trillion dollars of supports within the last year alone,” a government source said.
In contrast with last year, there are more programs and avenues available for employees and organizations to obtain funding compared to last August.
For example, the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program provides businesses heavily impacted by COVID-19 guaranteed access to low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs.
“Any time that you’ve got a request for financial support or working with the federal government, there is an expectation that there is financial transparency,” a government source said.
The federal government doesn’t want to rush putting football back on the field as if the season starts, it must actually end with a Grey Cup and not have to be paused or cancelled due to restrictions midway through. That would be a waste of money, time, and effort.
“Politicians aren’t here to police every Canadian, but we’ve all got to remember it’s a collective responsibility,” a government source said.
“We want to see Canadian football happening as soon as possible, but we need to see a healthy and safe way of doing it.”
The Buffalo Tribune spoke with Member of Parliament Saskatoon—Grasswood Kevin Waugh:
Several teams have already taken money from the federal government through CERB and wage subsidies. The league cannot operate with no fans in the stands. Will the federal government provide a loan to the CFL rather than a bailout package.
Three teams are community owned while the rest are owned by corporations or wealthy business people. American players would need to quarantine coming into Canada. Lots of decisions to be made by the league but if they are not able to put a product on the field in 2021 then I can’t see the league surviving.