Liewicki Leaks: No problem with CFL labour stoppage

Nathan Liewicki
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In mid-March I was in Saskatoon to watch the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) University Cup Final.

Saskatchewan Roughriders fans cheer on their team during the West Division Final at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Nov. 17, 2013.

The primary reason I drove up to the Bridge City was because my University of Alberta Golden Bears were set to play for the national men’s hockey championship.

Add to that two of my close journalism school buddies were going to be at the game, one of which came from Calgary to watch his Saskatchewan Huskies play for a CIS title, and I was Saskatoon-bound.

During the first intermission I talked with my Calgary friend. During that conversation he noted that in a few months he would start making the commute from Cowtown to Regina to watch the Saskatchewan Roughriders hit the gridiron for another Canadian Football League (CFL) season.

He also mentioned that he would have to make sure he stops in Moose Jaw to have coffee with yours truly every-so-often.

A loyal Roughriders season ticket holder for years, my friend is looking forward to watching the green and white battle the Ottawa Redblacks in both teams’ pre-season opener June 14. Unfortunately for him, and the rest of Rider Nation, Saskatchewan’s beloved professional sports franchise might have to wait to hit the field at Mosaic Stadium.

Talks between the CFL and the CFL Players Association (PA) have hit a standstill, and there are rumblings that the start of the 2014 season might be delayed.

A possible players strike is rumoured to be a possibility — something Riders fans of all generations don’t want any part of.

They want football and they want it June 14.

The CFLPA wants a formula by which the salary cap is based solely on the league’s revenue streams, which would bump the cap to $6.24 million starting in 2015. This is a far cry from the cap increase the CFL has proposed — a nine per cent increase from $4.4 million to $4.8 million.

There are other financial matters most Rider fans could care less about that the players are crying wolf about, with one of those being the league’s minimum salary. Players want to see that upped from $45,000 to $50,000.

Personally, I think the players are justified in their demands for the salary cap to be raised in reflection of revenue. I’d like to see the minimum salary of CFL players be in excess of $60,000.

As the league’s popularity increases, especially in green and white country, players should not be shunned for wanting more money.

On the other hand, I would have no problem if Rider Nation was forced to squirm every which way as a result of a CFL labour stoppage. What would they do this summer?

Granted, I’m not a CFL enthusiast, so a labour stoppage would not perturb me.

However, for the benefit of the league and its fans in this football-crazed province, a deal between the CFL and the CFLPA needs to be struck soon.

Then again I could care less, and would probably have an evil internal laugh at the expense of Riders fans, if the June 14 game is cancelled — aside from the fact that a coffee sit down with my Calgary-based friend is pushed back.

@Tagline:Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Canadian Football League, University of Alberta Golden Bears, CFL Players Association PA

Geographic location: Calgary, Bridge City, Saskatoon Regina Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Mosaic Stadium

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