CFL commissioner thinks canceling 2020 season ‘the most likely scenario’ amid coronavirus pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie said on Thursday that he believes canceling the upcoming season is “the most likely scenario,” according to the CBC.

The first preseason game was initially scheduled to start later this month, though the league has suspended operations due to the coronavirus. 

“Unlike large U.S.-based leagues, our biggest source of revenue is not TV — it’s ticket sales,” Ambrosie said while testifying to a House of Commons committee, via the CBC. “Governments coping with COVID-19 — for reasons of public health that we totally support — have made it impossible for us to do what we do.

“Our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all.”

There were more than 3.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the world as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 267,000 deaths attributed to the virus. Canada had nearly 64,000 confirmed cases, a majority of which were in both Quebec and Ontario.

The CFL’s future is ‘very much in jeopardy’

The CFL requested up to $150 million in financial assistance from the federal government last week amid the pandemic, per the report.

With no games being played, Ambrosie believes that the future of the league in general — which played its inaugural season in 1958 — is “very much in jeopardy.”

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Even though the league’s brand and nine teams are well established, the teams collectively “lose between $10 million and $20 million a season.”

“We are currently operating on the money our fans, and to a lesser extent our broadcasters and sponsors, pay us in advance for games,” Ambrosie said, via the CBC. “The day is fast approaching when we will have to cancel several games and perhaps the season. And then our fans and partners will have every right to demand their money back. 

“At that moment, our financial crisis will become very real and very big.”

While his statements paint a dark and gloomy picture for the league’s future, Ambrosie is still optimistic. 

He also knows how much their next Grey Cup — the league’s equivalent to the Super Bowl — will mean whenever it does finally come.

“We want our next Grey Cup, Canada’s 108th, to be the place where we can all celebrate that we did get through this,” Ambrosie said, via the CBC. “And that Canada is back.”

A general view of McMahon Stadium before the 107th Grey Cup between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers on November 24, 2019, in Calgary, Canada. (John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)

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