Last week a tentative collective bargaining agreement agreed to by the Canadian Football League and its players’ association looked promising.
The deal seemed primed to let the CFL season proceed almost to plan. Sure, the bargaining process was acrimonious, leading to the CFLPA’s first strike since 1974. But teams only missed a few practices, and the league only rescheduled one preseason game.
However, on May 23, the CFLPA voted against ratification. That outcome raises more questions about what’s ahead this season, certainly for anyone who has already put money on Grey Cup futures.
CFL schedule unaffected (for now), but that could change
As it stands currently, there aren’t necessarily going to be games missed despite the CFLPA’s failure to ratify. The next wave of preseason games comes Friday and Saturday, and the sides could strike a new deal by then.
Players reported to training camps on Tuesday rather than returning to strike. Also, a CFLPA memo to members post-ratification said the bargaining committee would go back to the league. And as per John Hodge of 3 Down Nation, the CFL has already made a new CBA proposal to the union.
According to Hodge, the new proposal eliminates the clause that would let “nationalized Canadians” (read: veteran American players) replace three Canadian starters for up to 49% of plays. That’s a clause TSN’s Dave Naylor and Farhan Lalji reported was a vital issue for many voters against ratification.
The new proposal also reportedly includes a slight raise to the salary cap. Currently, it’s unclear if that includes takebacks to offset those costs from the league’s perspective. But the CFL already making a new offer does seem like a promising step that could help alleviate the CFLPA’s concerns.
Stampeders, Alouettes to kick off 2022 CFL season
However, it’s not certain the sides will reach an agreement before the weekend’s matchups.
Notably, players did give the CFLPA bargaining committee a 95% strike mandate earlier in the discussions. Especially considering it did lead to a strike. Plus, the vote against ratification demonstrates many players are still unhappy with the offers so far.
Fortunately for bettors, most Ontario sportsbooks don’t tend to carry odds on the CFL preseason. The key date to watch is June 9. Ideally, that’s when the regular season will start, with the Calgary Stampeders hosting the Montreal Alouettes.
The Stampeders range from second to fifth in Grey Cup futures odds, and their Bo Levi Mitchell-led offence could benefit from the league’s offence-focused rule changes. So that’s definitely a game to keep your eye on.
But only if the two sides reach a CBA deal in time. If not, a strike or lockout could delay the season.