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CFL Players Association proposes new revenue-sharing formula

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The Canadian Football League Players Association will propose a revenue-sharing formula that arrives upon a salary cap of $7 million when collective bargaining resumes with the league today in Toronto.

TSN originally reported the story and a source familiar with the negotiations confirmed the report to the Free Press. The union, which agreed to have revenue sharing taken out of the last agreement, want to see the league adopt a formula where a mix of gate, TV and sponsorship revenues are blended to reach a revenue number that will then be divided by the nine league teams settling on a salary cap in the range of $7 million.

The players want portions of the three streams ranging from 40 to 55 per cent. Specifics were not available Tuesday but the example of, "maybe it’s 40 per cent of TV, 50 per cent of gate and 55 per cent of sponsorship which gets you to the $7 million figure," was offered by a source.

The current CBA which expires on June 1, sees each teams work under a salary cap of $4.4 million. The rise of $2.6 million coincides closely with the extra money each team could potentially receive from a new TV deal between the league and TSN, which is scheduled to kick in for the 2014 season.

Last year’s broadcast deal was worth $15 million spread out over eight teams with each club receiving in the neighbourhood of $1.9 million per season. The new deal is reportedly worth $40 million split among nine teams including the expansion Ottawa Redblacks and would potentially see each team receive a league cheque worth $4.4 million. The new broadcast deal runs through 2018 and rises by $1 million a year until capping out at $44 million per season.

A source with a CFL club told the Free Press the league would view a rise in the salary cap to $5 million as a reasonable finishing point to negotiations.

The union offer seems to be a bit of a telegraph in that they are asking for the entire share of new TV monies. One could easily read the message from today’s expected offer as the starting point of a negotiation that would get them half of the new TV money or close to a $1.3 million increase to the cap.

If ownership wants to get to a cap of $5 million and it appears the players are aiming for an increase to $5.7 million, the two sides should eventually be able to see they are not that far off from a deal.

Disrupting the season over a difference of $700,000 would seem to be a waste. Time, however, is beginning to run short with the regular season six weeks away. A strike during rookie or full training camp does not have to equate to regular season games missed. The players, who rely on game cheques, and the clubs who would need to refund gate and sponsorship dollars as well as foregoing any new TV money are both motivated to make sure no games are missed.

Getting a deal that works for both sides is still possible. Once games are lost, however, ownership could become intractable. They’ll want to take their losses out of the players’ share and their offer could shrink commensurately which could in turn harden the players’ position. Now is the time to deal. For everyone.

Twitter: @garylawless


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