Canadian Football League cancels 2020 season due to COVID-19
The Canadian Football League has decided to scrap its 2020 season due to COVID-19, marking the first time the championship Grey Cup trophy will not be presented since 1919.
“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.
The cancellation ends any chance that the nine-team gridiron league could stage an abbreviated season in a Canadian hub city.
The league had tried unsuccessfully to obtain federal government funding to salvage play by conducting a shortened season.
That plan involved asking the government for a C$30-million (US$22m), interest-free loan to hold a shortened campaign.
The decision also puts the new-look Edmonton Eskimos franchise on hold. The team announced earlier it was losing the name Eskimos following similar moves by North American sports franchises to do away with outdated stereotypical nicknames.
Ambrosie said the CFL lost C$20 million last season.
“Even with government funding and a new CBA, our owners and community-held teams would have had to endure significant financial losses to play in 2020,” Ambrosie said.
Unlike US-based sports leagues, the CFL does not have a multi-million television contract and relies mainly on its intensely loyal Canadian fan base for revenue. The league lost that money source when Canadian health officials banned large gatherings because of the new coronavirus outbreak.
With the cancellation, the CFL becomes one of the few major North American professional sports leagues to cancel its season.
The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association are now in the midst of playoffs in hub cities, and the National Football League plans to start up next month.
Since the CFL also relies heavily on import players, especially from the United States, time was running out to get about half the league’s athletes and other employees into Canada, which has implemented much heavier quarantine restrictions than the US.
The first Grey Cup was held in 1909 and was last not awarded in 1919, another pandemic year.
While franchises have come and gone over the years, the CFL has operated under the same format since 1958.
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