Redblacks players frustrated, disappointed after season cancelled
Players facing with financial insecurity 'feel robbed,' says representative
Ottawa Redblacks players are demanding financial compensation now that it's clear they won't be playing football this year.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) announced Monday the cancellation of the upcoming season, meaning there will be no Grey Cup presented for the first time since 1919.
"It's disappointing. I was hoping that we would be able to play at least some sort of season," said offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan, who starts right guard for the Redblacks.
Raised in Arnprior, Ont., MacMillan has been with the team since its inaugural season seven years ago.
They feel robbed because they've been working their asses off all year, and now they don't even have the chance to go compete for a job and make a salary.- Antoine Pruneau, Redblacks player representative
"To put in all that work, to sacrifice ... and to miss out on a season when you can only get so many seasons — it's definitely disappointing, he said.
MacMillan now plans to spend the year working toward the financial adviser career he hopes to begin once his football days are over.
Other players are feeling uncertain about their future.
"They feel robbed because they've been working their asses off all year, and now they don't even have the chance to go compete for a job and make a salary, make a living off of football," said Antoine Pruneau, a defensive back for the Redblacks and a player representative.
"There's no security for 2021 either, so it's really tough," he said.
Pruneau wants players, who have spent months training for the upcoming season only to see it cancelled, to get some sort of compensation for the time they put in.
CFL considering help for players
Unlike other professional sports leagues, the CFL doesn't have any significant broadcast revenue and instead relies on ticket sales, said Mark Goudie, president and CEO of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns the Redblacks.
He acknowledged there's a lot of anxiety among players.
"This is their livelihood. Their careers are short, and missing a season is devastating for them," he said.
Goudie said one possibility is the the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal government program that allows employers to apply for wage subsidies for employees, and which OSEG has already accessed to keep its 140 staff employed.
"I know the league is working through what that might look like with the players union right now," he said, adding the CFL hopes to present something to the players within the next few days.
With files from Radio-Canada's Kim Vallière