With negotiations around a new collective bargaining agreement set to resume Wednesday in Toronto, the CFL and the players association remain far apart on the most contentious issue.
The players are insisting that the league’s salary cap going forward be tied to league revenues. But a member of the CFL’s board of governors told Sportsnet the owners have no intention of meeting their demand.
“There is zero chance the owners agree to revenue sharing. Zero. No way,” said the governor, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon has threatened league officials with a $100,000 fine for making public comments about CBA talks.
“Players have absolutely no clue on the business of the league,” added the governor.
Last week talks broke down between the league and players, leading to mudslinging from both sides and economic proposals being thrown around like footballs.
“The players will have to climb down a whole bunch off their aggressive position to make something happen. I don’t see that happening,” said another league source close to the negotiations.
CFLPA president Scott Flory said his members aren’t planning to change their position any time soon.
“What we’ve stated all along, and we’ve been consistent with since the beginning, is that a revenue sharing model is what we have to reach – some way, some how,” he said. “That’s all we’ve said from the beginning. That hasn’t changed.”
The talks will resume at a Toronto airport hotel seven days after Cohon went public with the CFL’s economic proposal. The commissioner told Sportsnet last week the latest offer by the players is “unrealistic,” and one that would take the league “into the dark ages.”
On Sunday, Flory phoned Cohon in an effort to re-start the negotiations, with the current CBA set to expire May 30. Training camps are scheduled to open league-wide on June 1.
“A lot of what happens next is predicated on the talks (Wednesday),” Flory said.
The talks will once again centre around revenue sharing, with the players have insisting that the salary cap be tied to league revenues.
“It’s a model that’s set before us in pro sport,” said Flory.
A new television deal beginning in 2014 will place, on average, an additional $27.5 million annually in league coffers over the next five years. The league has offered the players an additional $5.5 million annually over the duration of the TV contract. Beyond revenues, adding player safety clauses in the new CBA remains a “major” focal point, said Flory. Another issue—at least in the eyes of the players—has been Cohon’s role in the negotiations. The commissioner has yet to personally sit in on any of the talks.
“Some commissioners, in the past, have been very involved at every meeting,” said CFLPA legal counsel Ed Molstad last week. “I guess it depends on the commissioner, in terms of what he wants to do. And he has chosen to stay away.”
While they remain far apart, sources on both sides of the table have said they hope Wednesday will be a “long day” of negotiations.
Last week’s meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.
A union source told Sportsnet Tuesday that CFLPA strike votes are being counted today and tomorrow.