Collective bargaining discussions between the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players Association have hit some major stumbling blocks which has forced Commissioner Mark Cohon to write an open letter directly to the membership. With labor discussions breaking off on Wednesday morning, the league resorted to issuing letters to the players outlining their proposal of a nine per cent increase in the salary cap for this coming season from $4.4 million to $4.8 million with increases continuing over five seasons until the salary cap reaches $5,050,000. As per the leagues, numbers the proposal would see the minimum salary increased from $45,000 to $50,000 and the average salary go from $82,904 to $92,917.
The CFLPA’s main request is to be involved with revenue sharing that’s directly linked to the lucrative TV deal that the league is currently operating under with its main broadcast partner TSN. The league and TSN recently renewed their existing contract, renegotiating a new five year deal worth close to $40 million per season. However commissioner Cohon says revenue sharing is absolutely not an option because the CFL still operates like a small business in many ways with teams only earning modest profits. Cohon also added that the CFL can’t be compared to bigger North American professional sports leagues that participate in revenue sharing between teams and players because if the CFL introduced that option it would simply fall back into the dark ages of the league in the early 1990’s where it barely survived. While Cohon was clear about revenue sharing being a non starter he did say their open to a deal that shares more revenue, as displayed in the above proposed salary increases.
The league has also proposed increasing the size of game day rosters from 42 to 44 players and limiting full contact practices to one per week during the season, with up to 10 more being held during the season as the teams see fit. The league is also trying to sweeten the pot by offering signing bonuses for every player if a deal is ratified by June 2, the first day of training camp. Rookies would receive $1,000 each, with veterans taking home $3,000 apiece.
Previous to today’s news, the CFLPA had rejected an offer from the league on May 16. The players countered with an offer on May 20, which asked for an increase in the salary cap to $6.24 million for this coming season, with further increases to be added to that starting in 2015, based on sharing in the league’s revenue streams. Last season the CFL salary cap was 4.4 million with roster sizes of 53 players. If a new deal isn’t agreed upon soon CFL training camps that are scheduled to open in less than two weeks, will be put on hold.