May 21, 2014

An open letter to Canadian Football League fans

Dear CFL Fans:

Thank you for your patience and understanding during our contract talks with our players.

Out of respect for our players and the negotiation process, we have had little to say in public. But now that the talks have reached a critical juncture, I want to provide you, the most important people in the CFL, with an update.

Today, we have directly communicated to CFL players the full details of our offer to them.

It is fair and reasonable. It would increase the average player salary by 12 per cent this season, to $92,917. It would increase the minimum player’s salary by 11 per cent this season, to $50,000. It would increase the salary cap by nine per cent this season from $4.4 million to $4.8 million per team. More increases would come over the life of an agreement.

Unfortunately, the union’s bargaining team has rejected this offer, and instead put forward an unrealistic proposal which, if adopted, would threaten the very existence of the CFL.

This is why we are now communicating directly to the players. The details of our offer, in a letter from me to the players, are posted on

You may hear a lot in the media about revenue sharing. Our offer would share increased revenue with our players. But we cannot agree to an approach that would focus solely on our teams’ revenues while ignoring their costs and the investments we must make to modernize, stabilize and maximize the CFL.

For example, our teams are directly investing $175 million in new stadiums and stadium improvements. Like your mortgage, these costs have to be financed over several years. We also need to invest in our digital properties, our social media, marketing and ticketing, and the fan experience in our stadiums. We need to serve you better to continue to earn your support and attract new fans.

Like you, we want football. We want training camp to open and our full pre-season and regular season schedule to be played. We don’t want a work stoppage.

Like you, we admire and appreciate what our players do on the field and in the community. They deserve to be paid fairly.

But also like you, we love this league. And that means we have a responsibility to you, and future generations of fans, to keep it strong.
Thanks to your support, the CFL is in a better place today than it has been in years. And we have made an offer that reflects this growth.

But we still have work to do to ensure all of our teams can make a profit, which is crucial to attracting the next generation of owners, at the same time we attract new fans.  We still have a long way to go to realize our vision of a strong, sustainable league that can succeed in today’s rapidly changing business climate, and in every market.

It was a long winter in Canada. And like you, we can’t wait for the season to start. But we owe it to everyone who loves the CFL to seek an agreement that’s fair to our players and right for our league and its future.

Thank you again for your patience and all you’ve done to help us grow.

Mark Cohon
Canadian Football League