Uncertainty Ahead with Start of 2019 Training Camp

Uncertainty Ahead with Start of 2019 Training Camp

After a long offseason, CFL fans should be excited about the return of football in 2019. Instead, there is air of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season as the players are currently without a collective bargaining agreement and there is talk that many will not be reporting to training camp when it is scheduled to open this weekend. The five teams located in Ontario and Alberta (Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Edmonton and Calgary) will report for training camp next Sunday while the players in Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver will not. Existing Labour laws in Alberta and Ontario mean players would have to initially report, but would be in a strike position four days later.

Despite laws that state players in Alberta and Ontario need to report to training camp when it opens this weekend, a number of those players in those provinces have taken to social media to say they will not! According to an article written by Drew Edwards for 3rd Down Nation in April, dozens of players including the likes of Bo Levi Mitchell (Cgy), Ted Laurent (Ham) and Shawn Lemon (Tor) and James Wilder Jr. (Tor) have said they would not report to camp. The minimum salary in the CFL in 2018 was $54,000 and that is paid in Canadian dollars. With about half of CFL rosters being comprised of Americans, those players lose approximately 30-40% to the exchange rate. This is an issue the players association has wanted to address for some time and appear to be willing to strike if necessary.

With training camps set to open this Sunday, time is running out for an agreement to be reached. Last month, players voted over 97% in favour of a strike to give their bargaining group a strong show of support in the negotiations. If a new agreement isn’t reached by Saturday, players with Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Montreal and the B.C. will not report for the start of training camp. For the remaining five teams, the players would be in a legal strike position four days later.

Preseason Camps on the Horizon…

With the first preseason game of the year only one week after training camp begins, there is some concern as to whether or not it will even be played if the players go out on strike. From a league standpoint, that would be a disaster! Both the players and the league will suffer if there is a labour disruption and from a public relations standpoint, the league seems to have more to lose as fans appear to be siding with the players. The CFL has always had the reputation of being a league where players played for the love of the game rather than the money they could make. It has more of a ‘blue collar’ image which CFL fans can identify with. There has only been one time in CFL history where a strike has taken place and that was in 1974, but that was settled prior to the start of the regular season. Will there be a second strike in the CFL? We will find out shortly…

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