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Without riches of Big 4, Canadian sports leagues brace for uncertain future | Bet Regal Sports News

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Without riches of Big 4, Canadian sports leagues brace for uncertain future

Mike Morreale and David Clanachan were under no illusions when they started their foray into the Canadian sports landscape a year ago.

As commissioners of the two fledgling Canadian sports leagues — the Canadian Elite Basketball League and the Canadian Premier League, respectively — both knew it was going to be an uphill battle in the early years of existence just to survive.

They made room for growing pains — smaller attendance, hiccups in the game day production, tweaks to their social media game plan, along with the unmanageable variables that come with beginning a new league.

But after what each league calls successful inaugural seasons, it was the hope and expectation of Morreale and Clanachan to further cement their positions in communities across the land in the second year.

They could have never, in their wildest contemplations, come up with a scenario that saw both leagues grounded, along with almost everything else, due to a global pandemic.

“We’re keenly aware of what’s going on around us and our priority is making sure people are safe and healthy,” Morreale said. “There are a lot of people not thinking about sports right now.”

On Wednesday, Morreale informed the beginning of the CEBL season, set to start in May, has been postponed until at least June.

As a former CFL all-star, Morreale knows all about momentum.

The two-time Grey Cup champion helped guide his 1999 Hamilton Tiger-Cats all the way to a championship, including an upset triumph over Montreal in the East Final, and was named the Most Outstanding Canadian in the title game versus the Calgary Stampeders.

But momentum can be a fickle and fleeting thing.

“What can we do to turn that positive momentum in the inaugural season into future positive momentum?” Morreale told CBC Sports. “There will be a CEBL in 2021 whether we play this year or not. That is going to happen.”

Hopes were high heading into the sophomore season of the CEBL — the league announced during the offseason the addition of the Ottawa BlackJacks.

Make no mistake, this unexpected and unprecedented halt is definitely going to provide challenges moving forward for the CEBL and other Canadian leagues. They don’t come with the billions in dollars of revenue that bigger leagues, like the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, bring in regularly.

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