The CFL logo. The CFL logo.

The Canadian Football League didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s looking more and more like its plans for a 2021 comeback will happen. The CFL initially announced last November that they were planning on a regular schedule beginning in June 2021, but switched that focus in April to an August 5 start and a 14-game regular season (down from the normal 18-game regular season). However, that still carried a lot of uncertainty even as recently as last month, when a Pro Football Talk report that the CFL “had informed agents and players” that the season would start on August 5 and training camps would begin July 10 took pushback from agents, players and reporters.

Some of the remaining hurdles included provincial and federal health approvals, the CFLPA signing off on a 14-game season, and the league board of governors voting in favor of a 14-game season (and one likely with reduced stadium capacity in at least some locations, especially at the start). But many of those obstacles have been cleared over the past few weeks, especially with the CFLPA announcing Thursday that they’d ratified a revised CBA. And the biggest remaining obstacle, the board vote (and one that wasn’t certain to go in favor of a season, with many stated concerns about how many fans the league could get in under health rules and how viable a 14-game season would be), was conducted Monday, and resulted in the board unanimously approving the plan. Here’s more from the CFL release on this, titled “Good to go“:

The Canadian Football League’s (CFL) comeback season is a “go”.

On Monday, the league’s Board of Governors voted unanimously on a 14-game regular season for its teams that will kick off August 5 and lead to the 108th Grey Cup on December 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day. This is great news for everyone who loves our game and our country.”

…“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisors and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” Ambrosie said. “And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

There are still a few challenges left, of course. “On track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals” isn’t “have received all the necessary approvals,” and things can still go wrong, especially around a rapidly-changing pandemic situation. And having a significant number of fans in the stands is pretty important for the CFL on the revenue side, especially after a lost season, so we’ll see how those fan approvals play out. But it is definitely looking like there will be a CFL season beginning on August 5 now. We don’t know who will be playing then (the league page just says “a revised schedule will be coming soon”), but games will likely again air on TSN (in Canada) and ESPN’s networks/ESPN+ (probably mostly ESPN+) in the U.S., and there will be plenty of people looking to watch.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.