CFL wants to avoid stoppage

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

The Canadian Football League Players Association is looking forward to a bigger slice of the league's revenues, but likely not at the expense of a work stoppage or strike.

CFLPA president Stu Laird expressed hope this week that when the current four-year collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners concludes after this season -- the official expiry date is the first day of training camp in 2006 -- the two sides will be able to work out a new agreement.

"The league's doing some great things as far as promoting the game, the players are doing what they can on the field and in the community, so we're moving in the right direction," Laird said in an interview with the Toronto Sun.

"As in the past, I'm sure both sides will work diligently to try to come up with a new agreement that will work for both of us."

During the current agreement, the annual salary cap has risen by more than $300,000 to its current figure of $2.6 million, although one issue that has become a hot topic is whether the figure is a maximum or merely a guideline.

"We run into the same problem when we want (the owners) to raise the cap and they say they can't afford it and they do it anyway," Hamilton Tiger-Cats' player rep Mike Morreale said.

Laird does not see a work-stoppage situation down the road for the players similar to what has happened in the National Hockey League.

The only time the CFL had a work stoppage occurred in 1974 while a new working agreement was being negotiated and the veterans did not report to training camp for almost a week, leaving teams to practise with only rookies.

No games were cancelled then and Laird is optimistic that will be the case next season.

"Where can we get to where as players we feel like we're fairly and reasonably compensated? I think we can get there. That's my hope," Laird said. "I think we try to position ourselves (in such a way that) we make our pie grow so that we can all prosper; how can we make it bigger for all of us."

TALKING

Laird said he and commissioner Tom Wright have on-going dialogues on the subject. Independent of the issue of whether the cap should be a hard figure or merely a guideline, there are other issues of concern.

While there is a commissioner's allowance that allows teams to pay players a sum outside of the cap for marketing purposes, it's common knowledge teams are paying players monies that are not reported in the registered contracts submitted to the league and the players association. Morreale, for one, believes full disclosure will benefit everyone.

"As players we just want what's best for everybody," he said. "If everything is open, then everyone gets the same (information)."


Videos

Photos