Realty One

Monday, April 22, 2019



We are less than a month away from the opening day of CFL training camps. While the talk should be about the draft, the rosters and the hype around who will be the contenders for the 2019 Grey Cup, instead we are talking about the games being played in the boardroom.

The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire before camp begins and if you believe all the headlines it seems less and less likely that the season will start on time.

Any sports league is built on the relationship between the league, players and fans. Without the cooperation of any one of the parties involved a league will crumble to pieces.

Right now, it doesn’t look good as the CFL and the CFLPA have called off negotiations until April 29th. This will give three short weeks for the two parties to come to an agreement.

While we would like to talk football, here is a little primer of what is to come over the next month.

There are only a handful of names that will pop up over the next few weeks. Most you should already know:

1881 Scarth St., 306-789-0011
From the CFL we have the Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, General Council Stephen Shamie (who was in the same position during the last negotiations in 2014) and different members of the CFL Board of governors like Winnipeg President, Wade Miller and Hamilton CEO, Scott Mitchell.

On the CFLPA side, the man that has been front and centre is Senior Advisor Ken Georgetti, Executive Director Brian Ramsey, CFLPA President Jeff Keeping as well as the player reps including CFLPA Vice-Presidents Solomon Elimimian and Rolly Lumbala.

What has changed since the last CBA negotiations in 2014?

Well, not much.

In 2014, the CFL was welcoming the Ottawa Redblacks (back) into the league for their inaugural season, a new stadium was unveiled in Winnipeg and new Mosaic Stadium was breaking ground.

As per the average attendance in 2013 was 27,005 or 74.29% of capacity. In 2018, the average attendance was 23,955 or 75.46% of capacity.

2014 was the first year of the current TSN television contract that is worth about $40-million per season.

So, the pie is about the same, but the question is, how big is the pie?

Unlike other leagues where you can easily find information on total league revenues, the only numbers we find are anecdotal.

The closest we can find is from a January 18 article by 3DownNation where Drew Edwards breaks down the numbers from a tweet by TSN’s Dave Naylor.

In summary, during Grey Cup week in Ottawa in 2017, Randy Ambrosie said he wanted to double the CFL’s total revenue from $210-million to $420-million.

The $210-million was one of the first times anyone had heard that number or any number that was attached to league revenues. The article is a great one and scathing towards the league and highlights just how small the percentage of revenue the players receive.

This gets us to the chips that both sides have already played leading up to these negotiations.

The league was ready to fight early on.

The first step was to announce that the league advised teams to not pay off-season bonuses until the new CBA was signed. Players see this as the league trying to ‘starve’ the players to sign an agreement.

There were complaints from the players side about the amount spent on the operations side for coaches and management.

In early December of last year, the league implemented a non-player football operations cap. It’s set at $2.5-million and caps the number of coaches to 11 and other operations staff to 14.

The latest ploy by the league was to step away from the negotiating table earlier this month to take care of other league matters.

The Players Association started telling its members not to take part in any team mandated community functions.

Then in the past few weeks they have advised players not to report to training camp until an agreement has been signed and then a notice went out to all players that a strike vote will be conducted this week (both courtesy of

So what does each side want?

If you are the league you want the status quo when it comes to salaries, pension and other player compensation.

The league would want to get rid of the one year contracts that have turned the off-season into free agent-palooza.

They would also like to implement the pieces needed to start commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s plan to take the CFL international.

The players have a long list of demands with the first and most difficult being some sort of revenue sharing formula. This is almost impossible because there currently isn’t one in place and there is no way the league and its teams would want this.

They also want better injury compensation. Not just for current players but also when their careers are over.

While things currently look dark, there is still enough time to get things done before camp opens. If not, we could see training camp and the pre-season games being the first to go.

If things go incredibly bad, regular season games would be eliminated and the league would slip out of whatever summer spotlight the CFL currently enjoys. To have this happen, it would be catastrophic for the league. A lot of fans will walk away and never come back, spending their hard earned dollars elsewhere. This would in turn mean jobs lost in offices across the CFL.

We know the league is ready to fight and it’s starting to look like the players are more unified than ever before.

It feels like dark times and we can only hope that the people at the negotiating table can put together a deal that is beneficial for all involved.



Dan said...

Damn it! I hear that Ambrosie wants to double league revenue and I get worried. I am more concerned about that than I am worried about getting this contract signed. Where will that money come from? Fans. I like the CFL because unlike the NHL you don’t have be rich to attend games. Doubling revenue means higher ticket prices, bigger TV contracts, bigger player salaries, more risk for teams in Toronto or Montreal when attendance woes happen. Today it is wholesome entertainment, at double the size it heads towards just another big business sports empire that puts business needs first. Yawn!

concience said...

As much as I hate unions, This time "Go players association" DON"T GIVE IN!
It's time the owners played fair with the players. If the owners don't give in, the league is in serious trouble, fans will leave, the 10th team will not be implemented, a stadium in Atlantic Canada will not be built and work on expanding the league overseas will be lost.
I believe now is the time for the owner idiots to wake the hell up

Anonymous said...

Agreed. The players need to make a stand & get a fair share. The time is now.

Anonymous said...

I'm developing a very strong opinion for our CFL Commissioner. From dropping the number of Canadian players, to withholding negotiated player bonuses, while spending his time in lavish European and Mexican Hotels, I can see why the public opinion is almost 100% in favour of the players. These players put their bodies and health on the line for very little remittance, and need off season jobs to make ends meet.
I'm disgusted with this Ambrosie guy, disgusted with the owners, and am ready to walk away....

Anonymous said...

not factual , not true in reality the pie is no bigger
Then the pie is ... you can not get more then
100 percent. The Cfl is a far cry from being the Scrooge mcDuck when it comes to money or in the fact they own a professional sports team !!

210 also is Revenue and is not actually profit ..
And at the end of the Day salary to players not the only bill that needs to be paid !

And the NFL is a open book, to its finances as you
Paint the picture either ... it’s is not !!!

Only Green Bay being community owned Reports
Fully ... the rest is media surmising and best guessing at best !

So Green Bay on 455 million in revenue made 34 mill in profit , one team that is 7.5 percent of total revenue ! So 210 million league wide is ummm really not much either ! That means at the same rate the whole Cfl as a pie of maybe of 15.75 to 16
Million at best ... divided between the league to run it and the 9 teams at best and not all are equal to or in that unless every team is actually getting the same size crowds and revenues to or from the equation or whole of the pie !
So 15.7 div by 10 is 1.57 each of which some make more and some make far less !
And contrary to belief I do not see each team getting all of the 40 mill given to them without the league taking it share first ! I am sure no team gets
4.4-5 million each year from it , to think that is foolish !

The players are not blameless it was them who first delayed this process and in first starting talks
And they thought they were the Bull and had the Bull by the Horns, With the AAF football league as a weapon to hold over the owners clubs and league and lost that when it folded and with it there Biggest bargaining chip on there shoulder as well as we he threat was lost and removed and power was lost to them !

Now do I agree the bottom half should be paid better yes ... perhaps ! Do I think a Cfl star or umm
QB should make 700 thou No I do not !

And in fact it is the players who I think as in most sports it is not them who made the League it is the league that allowed them to be who they are !

Personally I think the Day before the strike every
Team and owner should just release them all
Voiding ever contract and reset and start this league from ground Zero ! Hard but bitter pill
And I Love the CFl and this Game more then any
One so not easy to say as well either !

I am ok losing a season or playing with 48 Canadians European Mexican or whoever wishes the opportunity to play the Greatest team sport and the Best brand of Football and Game in the land and those released if they wish can play too
Or go face the real world and get a Job with them
Fake degrees some have earned !

CFL Forever !!! Do not mess with the Canadian content either ... Grow it !!!

Anonymous said...

I am 100% with the players. They deserve a little more. BUT, don't believe everything you hear from them either.

1. No team in the CFL is making money. The salary cap needs to go up but it will simply come at the expense of something else with all member clubs.
2. Players are angling that the CFL is withholding their bonus money and making players starve. Well, only top end paid guys have off season bonuses. I'm sure the QB's aren't starving. Plus, the bonuses are due for the 2019 season and thus haven't been earned yet. An aggressive move no doubt but imagine paying out the report six million in bonuses and then not have a season?
3. If players are "starving" why not increase the minimum salary. Why is that not even on the docket for the players association. More players are at the bottom end than the top but yet are ignored by the PA.
4. Players want health care? Pay into an insurance or benefits program like all other professions.

We all need to be adults here and see there needs to be a middle ground.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3. Sure Green Bay made 34MM which includes the exorbitant salaries paid out. If the CFL made 210MM, maybe the teams have to look at their other costs before players. The Riders a couple of years ago made double the revenue of the Bombers, yet netted less because their expenses were double. That was before the stadium costs were a factor. That indicates to me you have to control expenses. In a league where your product is the players who drive the revenue, you fit that in near the top of your priorities & then look at where you msy need to cut variable costs. The NHL not that long ago had the same problem where the players always caved. That changed when they got a decent negotiator & guess what? The teams still made money & so did the players. You want to run a business? Protect your assets. Cut elsewhere. If you cry "poor me" lay your cards on the table. Otherwise shut up.

Anonymous said...

This CFL entity portrays badly as a poorly run business, inconsistent from top to bottom, across the board. Why anyone would invest millions of dollars in a franchise plus a new stadium build doesn't make sense from a responsible business point of view. Bottom line.. CFL is in trouble with it's current leadership and its misguided direction. First things first with regards to pressing business on the table, address immediately, get that CBA done now!

Football fan Morty.

concience said...

Some anon posters are complete dorks! To even suggest the owners get rid of all contracts and players. You do that and there WILL BE NO CFL!!!!!. Must be an owner trying to set us up. You do that and see what happens to TSN signing a new agreement. They won't agree to paying for the rights to broadcast no-names. And what professional player would sign to enter a league that would do that?

Anonymous said...

read again that is Total Revenue not profit
There is a huge difference and that is why like so few fail to understand the whole or the real picture
In the CFL and it my Friend ! You can get or give more then 100 unless you want debt for every team and the league to fail . That or in your Fantasy world you found the secret money tree and are not Sharing it with us and the CFL

Anonymous said...

Cfl should join up with the auto workers union, yeah, union forever go union. Buzzzzz