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CFL cancels season after request for financial help turned down

The CFL cancelled its season Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the Grey Cup won’t be presented for the first time since 1919.

The resolution comes after the CFL was unable to secure financial assistance from the federal government. The league sent Ottawa an amended request Aug. 3 for a $30-million, interest-free loan, but the sides couldn’t come to terms on a deal.

It was the CFL’s last-ditch effort to stage an abbreviated season in the hub city of Winnipeg. It came after the league asked for $44 million in July. “I do feel I am responsible for the fact that we are not on the field this year,” Ambrosie said in a telephone interview. “But I resolve to learn from what we’ve experienced and I’m looking forward to a bright future.

The CFL had maintained it required government funding to stage a shortened season.

In late April, Ambrosie told The Canadian Press the league had presented a three-tiered request for financial assistance that started with $30 million initially, more in the event of a shortened season and up to $150 million in the event of a cancelled campaign.

“I regret that.… I do wish we hadn’t thrown that number [$150 million] out,” Ambrosie said. “We never asked for $150 million, at least I don’t feel we did.

Ambrosie had stated the CFL collectively lost around $20 million last season. With no football in 2020, a source familiar with the situation stated the league will lose between $60 and $80 million this year.

Ambrosie said he was at a loss to explain why the CFL and government couldn’t come to a suitable financial arrangement. But two league sources said the $30-million request fell through when the assistance couldn’t be provided to the league under the terms it sought. The sources were granted anonymity because the league and government haven’t discussed certain financial figures publicly.

Last month, the CFL ruled out a loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada because it felt the interest rate was too high.

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