Coronavirus: CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie could be making better use of time

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government and the Canadian Football League (CFL) is exploring financial support as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Press reported that the CFL is seeking up to $150 million in federal assistance.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the proposal involves $30 million now to manage the impact the novel coronavirus outbreak has had on league business and up to another $120 million in the event of a lost 2020 campaign.

I'm a great supporter of the CFL as as integral part of our national identity.  The CFL's tradition speaks volumes on the nation that we have become and the League has played an important role in national unity.

The CFL and the Grey Cup is far older than American's National Football League (NFL) with the Superbowl.

If I were Commissioner of the CFL I would have put together a Coronavirus Task Force comprising of team owners and interested players from all teams.

Half of this task force would be empowered to evaluate how team owners and players could support community organizations and small businesses also suffering from coronavirus shutdown.

These initiatives could include supporting local charitable fundraising events to raise money for vulnerable groups not getting sufficient or any government assistance support.

Such initiatives would enforce the continued relevance of the League during the pandemic and would be consistent with the history of CFL as a community-driven league.

The second part of my Commissioner's task force would seek to leverage the new found community involvement of CFL owners and players during the coronavirus pandemic to then negotiate the licensing of the CFL name to various services and products offered by Canada's largest corporations.  These could include the CFL logo licensed onto potato chips brands to beer to a whole variety of other services and products found in Canada's supermarkets and elsewhere.  This is an area which the NFL has excelled in but the CFL has not pursued much.

Through such a community-based approach, fans would more than remember the CFL during this pandemic crisis and the League could count on expanded support for the League during and after the coronavirus.  I estimate that such licensing arrangements in Canada and even outside of Canada could conceivably raise well over $200 million.

The apparent approach of Mr Ambrosie to put the League on ice while relying on federal government financial support is not consistent with the kind of innovative leadership Mr Ambrosie demonstrated when he consolidated CFL partnerships with football leagues in Mexico and Europe.

Why do I see the NFL and its players making money from being on cereal boxes and through other endorsements and not such corresponding commercial arrangements for the CFL and its players?  It seems to me that Mr Ambrosie could be providing more leadership on getting the League involved with their local communities and  exploring partnerships with large private companies in efforts to make money for the CFL and be less reliant on making money by getting fans in stadiums to watch games.


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