The mere considered one other yr with out the Canadian Soccer League as a result of COVID-19 pandemic is one thing many followers north of the border won’t be able to abdomen.
It might be a bitter capsule to swallow, but it’s one which we could also be compelled to gulp down.
In lower than three months, Could 23 to be precise, the CFL is planning to kick off its exhibition season by having the Calgary Stampeders host the B.C. Lions.
On June 10, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are slated to go to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a rematch of the 107th Gray Cup within the league’s common season opener.
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There’s a probability that neither of these video games, and plenty of extra, can be performed in 2021.
With out a conflict chest to faucet into, the gate-driven CFL did not safe authorities funding final yr that might have enabled it to play video games safely with out followers in attendance.
Speak of a bubble format and a shortened season after Labour Day got here and went simply as rapidly because the 2020 calendar evaporated into our reminiscence financial institution.
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Regardless of the quite a few hurdles that also should be cleared — the well being of gamers, coaches and followers (hopefully) and funding chief amongst them — Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stays optimistic that the league will return to the sector this yr.
“Personally, I’m very assured that we’re gonna get again on the sector this yr,” Ambrosie proclaimed in a current interview on the Invoice Kelly Present on International Information Radio, 900 CHML.
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“The phrase ‘assure’ is troublesome, however I really feel very, excellent right now that we’re on monitor to play soccer this yr.”
Ambrosie and the league’s 9 groups are at the moment working with the CFL Gamers’ Affiliation on a return to play protocol that can spell out how the 2021 season will play out amid the pandemic.
The protocol, just like what has been utilized by North America’s 4 main skilled sports activities leagues, will embrace a seven-figure COVID-19 testing plan, a schedule that might turn out to be fluid within the occasion of an outbreak, and steps that might finally enable followers to attend video games.
However even Ambrosie admits that it is going to be “definitely very troublesome” if the CFL can’t have followers attend video games in particular person.
“A few of the reply lies in what occurs with the vaccine rollout,” mentioned Ambrosie.
“Everyone knows that the earlier that we get vaccinated the extra seemingly it’s that the provincial well being authorities will let followers into our stands.”
When that occurs, nevertheless, stays a thriller regardless of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s repeated promise that each Canadian who desires to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine will get one by September.
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It has been reported that the league misplaced between $60 million and $80 million by not enjoying any video games in 2020, so you may’t blame the homeowners for not wanting the same monetary assertion this yr.
Pending approval of its return-to-play protocol, the CFL and its 9 groups should decide if they’ll conduct a season, even a shortened one, with out an exterior funding supply and 0 followers of their stadiums.
If the reply isn’t any, any optimism a couple of 2021 season will fade away.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, information and senior sports activities director at International Information Radio 900 CHML.
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