Monday, December 08, 2008

How the CFL might cash in on the recession...

One positive development for the CFL on the weekend the Bills come into downtown Toronto.

The Arena Football League is in some deep doo-doo financially, according to a PFT report from Mike Florio. Speculative posts about the global credit crunch's impact on the sports industry are already causing reader fatigue, I know. Oddly enough, in one of those Canadian conundrums, the CFL probably featured the most exciting, wide-open play it's ever had in the late '80s and early '90s, during the last big global economic slowdown.

Whatever the cause and effect, in those days days, the CFL didn't have a big competitor for talent, in the wake of the USFL folding. When the New England Patriots cut Doug Flutie in 1990, the CFL was his best, if only option.

The Arena league's growth has siphoned off a lot of the quarterbacks and wide receivers who are needed to sell the game. It is something to consider. The PFT report notes that the Arena league was depending on a big cash infusion that might not be coming, that "(s)ome team employees have been advised to find other work," and that the league gets no money from its U.S. television deal (hey, just like the NHL).

Greater minds such as Stephen Brunt have noted that the CFL under Tom Wright and his successer Mark Cohon has done well making itself financially stable. Teams have relatively low overhead. The salary cap is a joke but there aren't any Larry Ryckman types among the owners.

Scoring was up in the regular season this past year, but it had seemed like that until John Hufnagel took over as coach in Calgary, there hadn't a new play in the CFL since the late '90s. No one can predict what having a wider range of coaches and players would bring to the league, but it's something to keep in mind.

AFL in a death spiral? (Mike Florio,


Dennis Prouse said...

This has been a seriously under reported issue in recent years. CFL player personnel types, however, can tell you that it has been a serious problem. The Arena League was paying the same, or often better, than the CFL, so what was the motivation to come up here to play? The same was true of coaches - one of the reasons why you are seeing more Canadian coaches in the CFL is that a lot of the American coaches who used to come here were finding much better paying gigs in the Arena League. If that all comes to an end, as it certainly appears it will, there will no doubt be a much larger pool of talent from which to fish for the CFL.

sager said...

Thanks, D. ... Rob Vanstone at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix did post this over the weekend.