TORONTO — Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the earliest the CFL can start the 2020 season is September, and there won’t be a “traditional” Grey Cup in Regina.
Ambrosie made the statement Wednesday during a virtual video conference with season-ticket holders.
TLDR: season will start in September at the earliest.
If there’s a Grey Cup, will be a “win and host” format (finalist with the better record will have home-field advantage). https://t.co/tmIDXVo1iU
— Chris Wahl (@wahlsy) May 20, 2020
Ambrosie also stated a cancelled 2020 season remains a possibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Please note that we are not announcing or promising a return this fall,” he said. “We are just letting our fans know this remains one of the remaining possible scenarios for 2020.
“A cancelled season is also possible. Again, it’s too soon to make a sure call at this point.”
The prospect of the CFL starting the season in September isn’t new as Ambrosie told The Canadian Press in April, “there’s a lot pointing to September as being a reasonable person’s view of when we might be able to resume.”
“We have learned three things about running a league in a pandemic. Certainty is hard to come by. Scenarios are plentiful. And public safety is paramount,” reads a CFL statement.
“So, while we keep our focus on safety, we want to keep our fans informed as the number of possible scenarios narrows and decisions are made.”
Last month, the CFL postponed the start of training camps — which were to open last week — and pushed back the June 11 start of the regular season to July, at the earliest.
Ambrosie also called upon the Canadian government for financial assistance.
The league asked for $30 million immediately, additional monies if the ’20 season began late and up to $120 million for the worst-case scenario — the cancellation of the entire campaign.
The CFL is also changing its ’20 Grey Cup plans.
Regina was scheduled to host this year’s game but instead has been awarded the 2022 contest.
Hamilton will remain as the 2021 Grey Cup host.
If there’s an abbreviated 2020 season, the Grey Cup finalist with the best regular-season record will host the CFL championship game. The contest could still be played in Regina if the Saskatchewan Roughriders were one of the finalists and the team with the better record.
“The pandemic has had a drastic effect on travel, tourism and the economy,” Ambrosie said. “It has become increasingly clear we will not be able to host a traditional Grey Cup and Grey Cup Festival, certainly not with the size and scope that has become customary.”
And if the CFL does hit the field starting in September, it will mean the cancellation of the Touchdown Atlantic game slated for June 25 in Halifax between the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders at Huskies Stadium on the campus of Saint Mary’s University.
“The only thing deeper than our regret is our resolve to return to Atlantic Canada,” Ambrosie said. “It pains us that this pandemic is preventing us from showing our friends in Nova Scotia, in person, just how saddened we are by the senseless tragedy they have been forced to bear, and how much we admire their strength.”