CFL commissioner says league is committed to play in 2021

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the league remains committed to returning in 2021, but is leaving the door wide open regarding exactly how that will look.

The CFL did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for an abbreviated season were shelved in August after the league failed to secure a $30 million, interest-free loan from the federal government.

The CFL unveiled a full 18-game schedule for all nine teams in November, one that Ambrosie said remains on track for 2021. However, the commissioner added the league is keeping all of its options — including teams playing fewer than 18 games — open.

“We’ve got a schedule in place and we’re committed to it,” Ambrosie told The Canadian Press. “Our real focus is on all the planning that’s going to have to go into executing against that and also having maximum adaptability because there’s no doubt we’re going to have to make adjustments to our plan.

“We just need to be ready at a moment’s notice to make those adjustments.”

The CFL made repeated pitches to Ottawa last year for federal funding it maintained was essential for an abbreviated season. Ambrosie said the league had collectively lost around $20 million in 2019. The CFL has not revealed its financial results for 2020, but it’s essentially a gate-driven league and generates limited revenues by not playing.

“One of the things we take away from 2020 is we’re trying not to hinge our future on any one issue,” Ambrosie said. “We’re looking at our solutions holistically, we’re being as creative as we can be on any one of a number of fronts so that we find a way to play.”

The CFL is also watching with interest how the NHL operates this winter. The league is running with four separate divisions, including all seven of its Canadian franchises playing in the North Division and only playing against each other.

Last year, the CFL eyed having all nine teams playing in one division in Winnipeg, its proposed hub city. The 2021 schedule is calling for games to be played in all nine stadiums across Canada.

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