Sources: CFL no longer talking to Business Development Bank of Canada

Sources: CFL no longer talking to Business Development Bank of Canada

Sources: CFL no longer talking to Business Development Bank of Canada

TORONTO — The CFL’s search for federal government assistance will continue as the calendar flips to August, with time ticking down on the league’s hopes for a shortened 2020 season.

Two sources confirmed Friday the league is no longer looking to the Business Development Bank of Canada for financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. So now, the CFL now must try to find other funding options in the aftermath of its revised $44-million request.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the CFL nor the government have publicly discussed the league’s quest for financial assistance.

Where the CFL turns from here is unclear. But it will need to move quickly if there is any chance of starting a season in September in Winnipeg.

The CFL put out a statement Friday afternoon, essentially saying nothing is determined for the league’s 2020 season. It came on the eve of the resumption of play for the NHL and the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

“We appreciate the intense interest in our league and whether we will play a shortened season this fall,” the CFL said. “At this time, we continue to work with all of our key stakeholders to determine what is best for the CFL in 2020 and for our long-term future.

“We will update the media and public as we move forward. We thank everyone, especially our players, partners and fans, for their patience, passion for our game and support for our league.”

However, a tweet from Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans summed up the frustration CFL players are experiencing.

“Duuuuddee. C’mon,” Evans tweeted. “We have to be the only professional sport league that doesn’t have a plan/decision by this point.

“We’ve had since April and still nothing. Just tell us one way or another at this point!!!”

Ticats defensive back Courtney Stephen also tweeted his displeasure.

“The @CFL is like that person you went on a few dates w/who just won’t call you back anymore….Let’s just stop w/the Blind Optimism. A real friend would have told you to “Move On” by now,” Stephen wrote.

The CFL had been pointed to the BDC by the federal government. But the sources said that’s no longer a funding option after the crown corporation and league couldn’t agree on loan terms.

The decision is somewhat surprising given CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated if the league is to have a shortened season, it would begin no earlier than September. Ambrosie has also said a cancelled ‘20 campaign is also possible.

But the latest development doesn’t mean the CFL is out of funding options.

Last week when asked in the House of Commons if the government was going to assist the league, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said, “We encourage organizations in need of assistance to talk to their financial institution and to see what options are available to them.”

One such option might be the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). It offers federal guarantees to loans given out by private banking institutions, but these loans can only be used for operating expenses and must be required as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

The league would reach out to its financial institution and if it met the BCAP criteria, a loan would be guaranteed (up to 80 per cent) by Export Development Canada (EDC), another crown corporation.

However, the league has already examined this option and questions remain about the viability of the route.

The CFL says it will need financial assistance for a season to take place. Ambrosie has stated the league collectively lost upwards of $20 million last season and its nine teams have had little to no opportunity to generate revenue due to the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the CFL sent Ottawa a revised financial request that a source says was for about $44 million.

That’s substantially less than the CFL’s opening request. In April, the league sent Ottawa a proposal asking for up to $150 million in assistance in the event of a cancelled season.

The CFL’s revised request was being considered by the BDC. It’s a federal agency but also a crown corporation, meaning the federal government could not mandate it to provide financial assistance to the CFL.

The BDC is essentially a bank with lending criteria and the CFL, given its financial state, would’ve likely had trouble qualifying. To secure financial assistance — essentially a loan — the league would’ve likely required the Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. governments to provide some kind of guarantee on any aid, something Ottawa was said to have been trying to help facilitate.

Export Development Canada is also a crown corporation that helps Canadian companies. It has served as the country’s export credit agency since 1944 and helps businesses get money and/or credit by working with financial institution partners.

EDC is financially self-sufficient and operates much like a commercial institution. It collects interest on loans and premiums on insurance products while selling bonds and raising funds in global capital markets.

In March, Ottawa temporarily expanded EDC’s mandate to help non-exporting Canadian companies requiring assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On its website, EDC states it has facilitated over $1.5 trillion in exports and foreign investment by Canadian companies. It adds it has also helped nearly 17,000 Canadian companies “expand their business into international markets. The majority (86 per cent) were small- to medium-sized enterprises and they facilitated more than $102 billion in global business through EDC’s expert knowledge and financial products.”

The league and CFL Players’ Association continue to negotiate amendments to their collective bargaining agreement in an effort to hold a 2020 season.

The league had initially set a deadline of last Friday to agree on health-and-safety protocols, secure federal funding and renegotiate a CBA past its current 2021 expiry date. Last week, the CFL extended the deadline to this week but never provided a drop-dead date.

The CFL and its players have been eagerly awaiting word of any assistance from Ottawa. But any lendor would also want clarity on exact expenditures as part of its decision-making process.

If football is played this year, it will be in Winnipeg. Earlier this month, the CFL named the Manitoba capital as its tentative hub city.

The league’s revised request to the federal government covers operating costs and player salaries for a shortened campaign. It also included a letter of support from the CFLPA.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

CFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Kelowna RCMP Stock Image.
Bentley post office damaged, armed robbery at Subway

Sylvan Lake RCMP respond to incidents in Bentley last month

James Taylor of Rimbey has won $100,000 from a scratch ticket. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey winner scratches his way to $100,000 prize

James Taylor says store staff were almost more excited than he was

A central Alberta woman is collecting Christmas gift donations for roughly 85 residents at Valleyview Manor in Rimbey. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Most Read