Cohon threatens to fine CFL teams on CBA talks

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon. (Nathan Denette/CP)

The CFL isn’t commenting about collective bargaining negotiations, but the head of the league has suddenly threatened heavy discipline to all nine teams, and its employees, if any further news — or opinion — is leaked publicly.

In the aftermath of Sportsnet’s story Wednesday regarding CBA talks coming to an impasse between the league and its players’ union, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon sent a stern memo to each member club. Cohon is threatening discipline should any franchise speak publicly regarding internal conversations that the league’s upper brass has hoped would remain confidential.

Sources told Sportsnet that Cohon has issued threats of fining any CFL team employee who speaks to media regarding the talks between the league and the players union. Further, Sportsnet has learned that the commissioner told teams that any leak from a team would lead to the organization being fined $100,000.

A CFL spokesman refused to address the matter, stating “We’re not going to comment at all on our internal management.”

Breakdown in talks at the CFL and CFLPA level has occurred, fundamentally, over distribution of league revenues. The players union is in search of a 56 percent share of the overall pot, while the league will not budge on re-implementing revenue sharing into the collective bargaining agreement.

The CBA expires on the day before training camps open in May.

Sportsnet reported Wednesday that meetings scheduled, between both sides, for March 20 and 21 have been cancelled because the league is not even willing to negotiate a model of revenue sharing.

What irked the commissioner most, sources said, were front office folks showing their displeasure on how the process has unfolded. As Sportsnet reported Wednesday, one executive was appalled that bargaining talks had started only this month, and another called it “absurd” that teams are still unaware of what the 2014 season’s salary cap will be.

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