Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No CFL Lockout

The CFL and its players' association have reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, avoiding a potential lockout this season.

The deal still needs to be ratified by the players and the league's board of governors.

The current deal expires at the end of the month. With negotiations not going well, there had been talk in the off-season of a possible lockout.

According to a statement from the CFL on Wednesday, the new agreement includes a drug testing policy but no details will be released until the deal is ratified.

No other details from the agreement were released in the statement.

"By agreement of the parties, there will be no further comment on any of the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement until the ratification process is complete," the statement said.

The ratification vote will take place prior to the start of the 2010 season on July 1.

Training camps open early next week.

Labour issues are rare in the CFL. In years when the two sides couldn't get a deal done before the expiration of the previous one, they've operated under the terms of the old CBA until a new one was reached.

Keeping games on the field is of vital importance for the league, given its teams draw a big chunk of their operating revenue from ticket sales.

Two of the more contentious issues on the bargaining table were daily work hours and reducing the number of Canadian-born players teams must start.

Under the current deal, CFL teams have their players for 4 1/2 hours a day. That means they must cram in meetings, practices and film study during that time, creating challenges for coaches to work out any kinks, let alone implement weekly game plans.

Sources told The Canadian Press last fall that the CFL would like its players to be available to teams for six hours a day.

Another sensitive issue was the league's proposal that the number of Canadians teams must start be slashed from seven to four.

Canadian content was a bone of contention last season as many teams scrambled to find capable Canadians to replace non-imports who have been hurt. That prompted suggestions that teams be able to have one less Canadian on their roster. That player would be replaced by an extra American.

Currently, CFL teams must carry 20 Canadians, 19 Americans and three quarterbacks (Canadian or American) on their 42-man active rosters but only start seven a minimum of non-imports.

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