The wait continues for the former University of Maine players on Canadian Football League rosters. The CFL has suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report by Global News, the CFL has asked the Canadian government for a $30 million loan to help pay for an abbreviated season during which each of the nine teams play six regular-season games leading up to the playoffs.
All of the games would be played in a hub city and defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg won that bid. The Grey Cup is the CFL’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.
The CFL usually plays an 18-game regular-season schedule that begins in June but the coronavirus has pushed that back until at least September.
The CFL’s Board of Governors is slated to meet on Thursday.
UMaine alumni preparing for the season include defensive back Sherrod Baltimore, linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga, wide receiver Micah Wright of the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders linebacker Sterling Sheffield.
Former UMaine offensive coordinator Kevin Bourgoin is the running backs coach for Winnipeg.
“From what I heard, I don’t think there is going to be a season,” said Mulumba-Tshimanga, who is skeptical about the chances of the Canadian government providing a loan to the CFL. “But you’ve got to stay ready in case there is one. I work out every day.”
A source told Global News that the league expects to lose more than $50 million this year. CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie explained that franchises, which lost an estimated $20 million last year, need government help to hold the 2020 season.
Teams rely heavily on gate receipts for their revenue.
If there is a season, Ambrosie anticipates everything happening quickly, so being well-conditioned will be important for players.
The players are not being paid during the lockdown.
“You have be very smart with your money,” said Mulumba-Tshimanga, who is back home in his native Montreal.
Mulumba-Tshimanga, who previously played with the Edmonton Eskimos, has stayed busy on his Instagram account, posting tips for young linebackers on how to play the position.
The former three-time All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team selection at UMaine played in just nine games for Edmonton a year ago due to injuries. He explained that he got bored because he wasn’t able to travel with the team, and so the fourth-year pro began posting daily linebacking tips on his Instagram page to pass the time and help youngsters.