Saskatchewan·Analysis

Tough decisions being made in the Riderville office due to COVID-19

Tough decisions are being made at the office of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Employee compensation has received 'adjustments' in the pandemic world, the CBC's Glenn Reid reports.

Employee compensation 'adjusted' but no layoffs

No salaried staff have been laid off but the Saskatchewan Roughriders say there have been adjustments to compensation during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Glenn Reid/CBC News)

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are making tough decisions — decisions that don't involve players — the weekend before what would've been the start of training camp.

It is the darkest of times for the Canadian Football League and the rest of the sports world. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the shut down of arenas and stadiums.

Even the financially comfortable Roughriders are not immune. With no game-generated revenue coming in anytime soon, the organization is cutting costs.

"There have been no layoffs," the team said in a brief written statement.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has put us in a place where the future is uncertain. With that in mind, the Roughriders have adjusted the compensation for every employee in the organization."

Uncertainty is the dilemma facing everyone today and sports leagues, which stay in business by playing in front of mass gatherings, are as uncertain as any. 

Just last week, CFL Commssioner Randy Ambrosie appeared before the federal government's finance committee and stated that a CFL season appears unlikely.

The plea was for $30 million up front and another $120 million later should the worst case scenario, a cancelled season, come to pass.

With no decision yet from the federal government, CFL teams can't afford to wait. Several teams have already taken measures to slash expenditures and this week the Riders followed suit.

"Just like many businesses across the province, the Roughriders have had to make difficult decisions to ensure the future of our storied franchise," the statement said.

No salaried employee has been laid off but pay cheques are not as large as they were prior to the pandemic.

The move excludes players who are the worst off, as they're not getting paid until a game is actually played.

Dr. Saqib Shahab and Premier Scott Moe say there would be challenges and risks associated with a CFL 'Hub City.' (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

However, the CFL has been tossing around the idea of a 'Hub City,' concept which would see the possibility of a select two CFL cities hosting games involving all nine teams.

The notion was brought up at Thursday's provincial government briefing. The scenario raised the eyebrows of the Premier and his chief medical officer, appearing as if it was an idea they weren't crazy about.

"There would be some risk of transmission in those settings to players," said Dr. Saqib Shahab on Thursday.

"Obviously there wouldn't be any spectators, so sometime in the future there could be something that may be done, in a way."

But as Premier Scott Moe noted: so many obstacles stand in the way, with player health and safety being paramount.

The least of which is getting American players back across the border into Canada, which means 14 days of quarantine to start.

Moe said no discussions have been had with the CFL at a provincial or a federal level regarding a 'Hub City' possibility. 

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere has already expressed an interest in being the mayor of Hub City. Fougere believes it's at least worth a conversation.

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