To nobody’s shock, the Canadian Soccer League (CFL) has pushed again the beginning of its 2021 season as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
The query now could be, will the season ultimately be performed?
The league introduced Wednesday that it goals to kick off the marketing campaign on Aug. 5, almost two months later than the unique opener on June 10 between the defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
By suspending the beginning of the season, the CFL received’t be capable to play a conventional 18-game schedule.
If every little thing goes in accordance with plan, every of the league’s 9 groups will play 14 video games, and the Gray Cup championship will probably be performed Dec. 12 at Tim Hortons Subject in Hamilton as a substitute of Nov. 21.
CFL pushes again begin to 2021 season, reduces variety of video games as a consequence of COVID-19
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie issued a press release Wednesday, saying, “We’ll play CFL soccer in 2021.”
However — and there’s a huge however on this state of affairs — Ambrosie mentioned the Aug. 5 season kickoff is a “goal date” that’s contingent on two issues.
No. 1, the league should acquire a inexperienced mild on its return-to-play plan from public well being officers within the six provinces during which its groups are based mostly to make sure gamers, coaches and followers stay secure.
Secondly, and simply as essential, the CFL should acquire authorities approval that will enable followers to attend video games in particular person.
Ambrosie mentioned the league will need to have “permission from governments to host a big variety of followers within the stands, in a big variety of venues initially of the season, and in the remainder of our venues quickly after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our golf equipment.”
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What’s a big variety of followers? Does that imply 20 per cent of a stadium’s capability, or extra? Fifty per cent? Greater?
Admitting that “followers within the stands account for no less than half of our income,” Ambrosie mentioned the league is ready to get inventive in its method to holding a season in 2021, which ought to present some optimism for CFL followers.
“If we’re unable to host followers within the East due to COVID-19, we’re ready to start out play within the West,” mentioned the commissioner.
That’s an essential level and harkens again to final yr when the league and its house owners had been making an attempt to determine safely conduct an abbreviated season and reportedly mentioned a bubble format, much like what was utilized by the NHL, NBA and Main League Soccer to finish their respective 2020 common seasons and playoffs.
Ambrosie additionally confirmed the league has contingency plans in place “ought to elements past our management” delay the beginning of the season past Aug. 5.
Whereas not sharing any specifics, that would imply a western or japanese bubble, or only one bubble for all 9 groups. It might additionally imply that if COVID-19 instances and the totally different variants are nonetheless an enormous concern come the summer time, the CFL might once more push again the beginning of its season and play even fewer video games.
As everyone knows, many issues must go proper — together with Canada’s much-maligned COVID-19 vaccine rollout — for the 2021 CFL season to go off with out a hitch.
However I’m a glass-half-full sort of man, and Wednesday’s announcement has me feeling a bit of extra optimistic in regards to the league than I’ve in a protracted whereas.
With that being mentioned, is it August but?
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, information and senior sports activities director at International Information Radio 900 CHML.
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