Realty One

Thursday, May 2, 2019


By: Roger Kelly
American Football International

SWEDEN - CFL 2.0 will work.

You may not think so right now. In fact, you may be raging against it. Scoffing at it.

But people are talking about the Canadian Football League now. They weren't before.

Inside and outside of Canada's borders, suddenly football people are aware of the CFL again.

There's a buzz that wasn't there before. In Mexico. In Europe. There are 27 Mexicans and 9 Europeans headed to CFL training camps in a few weeks.

'Who cares?' you say.

If you want the game to survive, you should care.

If you want growth, you need change. The CFL needs growth and CFL 2.0 definitely is a change.
When Randy Ambrosie coined the term CFL 2.0 in 2018, he knew he was triggering a change. Football purists, coaches, scouts and general managers don't like change, unless it helps them win, tomorrow.

Ambrosie is playing the long game.

Yep, there are issues. How do you fit all these new players onto rosters? How many Canadian jobs are in jeopardy? Will these players adapt to the rigors of training camp?

Hey, European coaches have their own issues. Who compensates a team for the loss of one (or two in the case of the Potsdam Royals) of their top players? Do you add a designated Canadian spot on a European roster to compensate for the loss?  There are plenty of questions that need to be answered.

And they will be, in time.

The marketing opportunities are limitless. Canada is a land of immigrants. When Mortiz Böhringer, a club player from Germany, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Minnesota became the most popular NFL team in Germany, maybe even Europe. Although he stayed on their practice roster for two years, his jersey was a top seller in Germany and his popularity soared. Not just in Germany but also among all the German descendants living in the United States.

Imagine getting that kind of interest for a European player in the CFL.

The game needs growth.

In 1991, the BC Lions and Toronto Argonauts played a memorable game at BC Place Stadium in front of almost 55,000 spectators. The Lions with Doug Flutie beat Toronto and Rocket Ismail 52-41 in double overtime.

How do you get crowds like that again?

Through growth.

The CFL has now taken a pioneering role to trigger growth. The NFL experimented with the World League of American Football and NFL Europe marching through Europe to set up shop, but it was a money-losing proposition and folded in 2007.  This is different.

Late last year, Ambrosie turned to the federations in Europe and asked how they could work together. No one had ever done that before. The reception he got was incredible. Austria, Germany, Finland, France, Italy and the others jumped at the chance. Remember that football is not new to Europe. These countries have been playing the game for the past 40-50 years.

They have a clue. And now, suddenly, the world's second professional league had come calling and was listening.

Now there is a pool of talent available that no one realized was there before.

There are 1,200 football teams in Europe alone. Germany has over 50,000 players, coaches and participants as well as five divisions of football while France has roughly 22,000 and Great Britain and Austria upwards of 20,000. And the numbers are growing. And that's just four countries. Mexico has 60,000.

Add this up and this leads, ultimately, to growth.

Most people don't know that international athletes make up 20% of all NBA players and 25% of all MLB players. But only 1% of all NFL/CFL players. The CFL has to take the game outside of Canadian borders.
Imagine a German native starring for the Toronto Argonauts. What would that do to ticket and merchandise sales?

Attendance numbers in the CFL have been falling for years.

CFL 2.0 is the first step on the road to rejuvenation.

(Follow Roger Kelly on Twitter at @RogerKelly18)


Anonymous said...

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has got to go. League issues on home turf not being addressed. Any damage incurred by the league moving forward is all on Randy Ambrosie's shoulders. The Montreal ownership conundrum needs solid people (no weirdos allowed) with big pockets to right that franchise otherwise the CFL is back to a 8 team league with a minor league tag in pro sports.

Jacques Thibodeau Trudeau

Anonymous said...

What I don’t get is, why is it the Canadian jobs have to be in jeopardy, it should be an international spot period, leave the Canadians alone, hey. It’s the Canadian football league, in case everyone’s forgetting that.

SWC said...

Fine if those Mexican and Euros replace Americans. After all they are imports. I'm just a fan that gets to one or two games a year but I watch them all on TV and I strongly oppose lowering the Canadian ratio.
The other thing that concerns me is keeping Canadian rules. If we go to four downs and 100 yard field with 10 yard end zones we are done like dinner.
I'm strictly a CFL fan who never watches the NFL. I expect to get some flack for this posting but I have an opinion and that's it.

Anonymous said...

Its with immense pleasure that I on behalf of Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club select Jonathan Kongbo at the #6 position of the 1st round this 2019 CFL draft. Congratulations Mr Kongbo, welcome to Riderville.

Jaques Thibodeau Trudeau-JT-Medium Potato

Shakey Pickett said...

Very good article. I hope this fella is right as everyone takes a deep breath.

Anonymous said...

They will not be changing the field sizes or downs haha. Get a grip. The NFL is looking at increasing their field closer to our dimensions. Why would we go smaller?

Tim said...

I like this article. It makes sense to me.
What nobody seems to be discussing is to increase the roster size. Keep the import and Canadian ratio as it is, but increase the roster or at the very least the practice roster.
That way we can have the Mexican or European players play, but only if they are good enough to make it. In other words no free rides just to get more fans in those places. The on field product cannot depreciate. This will mean a larger salary cap but it sounds like with the new CBA, the cap will be increasing anyway, just make it a bit higher.
My two cents.

Unknown said...

How are people this triggered. Geeze

This is literally the first time the league has gone on a measured offensive and is bringing us into the 21st century, something LONG overdue.

Bruce C said...

I am in favor of the imports of European and Mexican players. It is long overdue to have more fans and interest in the CFL. What I believe is that we keep our field rules, NO 100 yards, 4 downs, 40 sec play clock, smaller ball and crap like that. The CFL League has been around for 100 plus years. CFL is a harder game because of its rules and should remain as such. If we adopt NFL style game play then I am done with football forever.

SWC said...


Anonymous said...
They will not be changing the field sizes or downs haha. Get a grip. The NFL is looking at increasing their field closer to our dimensions. Why would we go smaller?

Because of Yankee worship and the Mexicans and Euros are all playing US rules. It's only natural Canadians want to cater to everyone. As for the Americans expanding their field, it ain't happening, their stadiums won't accommodate a CFL field.

They may have the superior athletes but we have the superior game so leave it alone.

Sam Korne said...

Take a look at the NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks and ask yourself if the #1 NBA jersey sold in Greece is … guess who?

Why wouldn't a business, in this case the CFL, look at expanding it's player pool?

It's overdue. More fans, more merchandise sales, more revenue to increase the product quality. It could be a win win scenario. It just needs to be executed properly.

Fanboy said...

Would you apply the same to Canadians? One could argue the ratio today limits the quality of the onfield product.

Fanboy said...


Anonymous said...

Who's going to watch the CFL if we go to American rules? The millennials aren't. If you have the choice to watch the NHL or AHL, who you going to watch? With American rules, fields etc you go to the boring American game with hulking LB's, QB's who need to be 6'5", 240 which is the "standard" according to some experts who commented on the NFL draft. The CFL is great because it values speed, endurance because you don't get 40 seconds to get a play off, you have to run a lot further sideline to sideline, you actually have to do something with a ball punted to you rather than let it bounce past you for the opposing team to tackle the ball. It's a different game, that's what makes it great. Otherwise we become the AHL, a product I'm not going to tune in to thank you very much. We should always have Canadians in the league & 5 starters or 7, we still have to put 21 on the roster. Lots of Americans who come here love the game & stay after playing here. Keep the rules Canadian.

Anonymous said...

I've changed my mind, now picking Alex Fontana on behalf of the Roughriders Football Club with the #6 2019 CFL draft pick.

JT Little Potato

Anonymous said...

What a hilarious article. Lots of statements with no facts yet again, nice try though.

Unknown said...

Several years ago after being dragged to 3 or 4 super bowl parties in a row I decided I would watch both the CFL and NFL for a season and see what stuck. I found the NFL was better marketed and had the better half time show and as rule had a great fan culture with pregame tailgate parties , but after all was said and done the only thing better in the CFL was the game on the field . it was far more fun to watch . I wouldn't pick my team for 2 or 3 more years but in 2009 I chose the Hamilton tie-cats after seeing how win or lose their fans were still there on the bandwagon . I moved back to my home town in Vancouver the following year and still proudly wear my tie-cats gear caps t-shirts and Jerseys . in the words of the avengers whatever it takes to expand the fanbase but keep the game on the field the same it always has been the one thing the cfl does right.

QB-Upshall said...

Canadian players fresh out of school that need high level competition can finish their pro preparation in Mexico and Europe thanks to reciprocal affiliations between the CFL and these respective country football governing bodies.

Without doubt the benefits to the Canadian player all by itself are reason enough for CFL 2.0.

Of the 42 countries with football governing bodies overseeing development of the game from minor to pro, Canada is only out-ranked by the USA. Canada is held in high regard by those who wish to grow the sport. They look to Canada to help and will affiliate willingly.

Athletes who like contact gravitate to football. This is just as true in Mexico and France as it is in Saskatchewan or Texas. Welcome to the Global Village.