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JONES: CFL reveals no plans for 2020 outside of Regina a no-go for Grey Cup

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, seen here at the 2019 Grey Cup in Calgary, held a virtual town hall with season seat holders Wednesday, May 20, 2020, but didn't actually reveal any plans for a potential season of some sort.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, seen here at the 2019 Grey Cup in Calgary, held a virtual town hall with season seat holders Wednesday, May 20, 2020, but didn't actually reveal any plans for a potential season of some sort.

It was billed as a Canadian Football League season ticket holders’ virtual town hall, where commissioner Randy Ambrosie would provide an update on the league’s plans for 2020.

The only real plan revealed was the one predicted and projected in this column a couple of days ago — that there would be no 2020 Grey Cup in Regina, that the 2021 Grey Cup would go ahead as planned in Hamilton and the Regina Grey Cup game would be rescheduled for 2022.

To even call it a ‘town hall’ would be ridiculous. Ambrosie was fed a series of questions submitted by season ticket holders around the league.

Despite the fact Ambrossie was delivering negative news, the CFL commissioner was effectively attempting to create a pep rally.

Ambrosie basically put himself in position of having to be a song-and-dance man. And he didn’t dance that well.

You’d call it a ‘low’ content event. Except that other than the Grey Cup news — that Regina had been left in a position of planning a festival that next to nobody, due to reasons involving the COVID-19pandemic, the economy and travel options, would consider attending and had opted out — there was NO content.

“I think we are all quite disappointed. I think CFL fans wanted to go to Regina this year. But obviously with all of the things happening around the pandemic, having a traditional Grey Cup just isn’t possible,” he said.

“The Grey Cup is more than a football game. It’s so much more than that. It’s the festival and the atmosphere is part of what has made the CFL such a legendary event.

“From what we know today it is virtually impossible to hold an event the way Canadians have become accustomed to, so working with the Riders, it was very clear we weren’t going to have a traditional Grey Cup this year. Along with the Riders, we made the decision that we would shift the Grey Cup away from Regina this fall. We awarded Grey Cup 2022 to the Riders and the province of Saskatchewan.”

Excuse me, but … cough … sputter, I told you so.

In the event the league is to able to play an eight-game schedule, Ambrosie suggested the CFL final might end up being played sometime in December.

Anybody up for playing in or attending that game a couple of weeks before Christmas in, oh, say, Winnipeg or, ah, Edmonton?

“If we are able to play, we’re going to go to a win-and-host strategy,” Ambrosie explained. “Of the two teams that would be playing in the Grey Cup, the team that has the best regular-season record would be the host of the Grey Cup this year.”

Even in terms of that, er, plan there was no mention of if the idea would be to have Eastern Division teams play exclusively against each other and Western Division teams do the same, or for every team to play each other once.

As for the overall suggestion that “plans for the 2020 season would be updated,” the update was there was finally an admission that the league couldn’t play until September, earliest, and that was about it.

Not that there was confirmation that the league was actually putting plans in place to start in September.

“What we wanted our fans to know what that this was a possible scenario that we are pursuing,” Ambrosie said. “It’s an opportunity to get back to football in early fall, right around Labour Day. It is one of the scenarios that we are pursuing. We know that in several of our CFL cities, we would not be able to play until the end of August, for sure, based on public health requirements. So we’re looking at September and onward for getting back to this game that we all love so much.”

No plan.

Playing games in empty stadiums in a gate driven league?

“Of the many different scenarios that we have been investigating, all of those are on the table.”

No plan.

The status of the CFL’s request for federal funding?

“We’ve had ongoing conversations with the federal government as recently as late Friday afternoon,” he said. “Our strategy was always to look at a number of different ways to get through this crisis. One was to talk to the federal government. We’ve been talking to the provincial governments because we have so many great friends in the provincial governments. And there are things we’re working on our own. We’re looking at all possible ways to survive this crisis and that we come back bigger, stronger and better in 2021 and beyond.”


But ‘Gimme a ‘C’. Gimme an ‘F’. Gimme an ‘L’

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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