TORONTO — Randy Ambrosie wanted to set the record straight Friday.
The CFL commissioner said he did speak via telephone Wednesday with the head of an American developmental football league for about 10 minutes. But Ambrosie added he told Brian Woods, the CEO of The Spring League, that the Canadian league was currently too busy dealing with the various elements of the COVID-19 pandemic to seriously consider a partnership between the two leagues.
Ambrosie said he told Woods he was welcome to send the CFL commissioner a follow-up email. But Ambrosie said he never requested a formal proposal from Woods or expressed interest in his partnership plan.
On Thursday, Woods said he and Ambrosie had spoken and that the CFL commissioner had requested a formal proposal regarding a partnership between the two leagues. Woods added Ambrosie was open to his concept which at best was a long-shot considering both Canada and the U.S. are battling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Last week, Woods said he’d approached Ambrosie about a partnership that would see CFL teams practising with and playing against The Spring League clubs in the U.S. in September.
When asked about Woods’ plan last week, Ambrosie said the two hadn’t spoken but he was keeping all of his options open.
“I’m trying to keep an open mind to everything,” Ambrosie said at the time. ”The one quality of this job is try to make friends, build relationships and explore all options.
“I think what our governors want me to do is find a bigger, brighter future for this league. That means you’ve got to be open to new thoughts.”
Ambrosie announced May 20 a best-case scenario for the CFL was opening an abbreviated season in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also reiterated a cancelled 2020 campaign remains a possibility.
Ambrosie has approached the Canadian government for assistance. The league’s three-part proposal includes $30 million immediately, more monies for an abbreviated season and up to an additional $120 million in the event of a cancelled campaign.
The Spring League is a developmental football operation. It consists of four teams — with 38 players on each roster — that practise jointly and play games at one facility.
Its season usually begins in March and generally lasts three weeks. Teams play two games apiece and during the off-season the league conducts tryout camps.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press