An uneven playing field, one of the CFL's many quirks, has finally been levelled.
The league announced yesterday a firm salary cap, an idea introduced two decades ago but never enforced, along with more than a dozen other changes covering rosters and player movement. The changes were ratified at a board of governors meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.
CFL commissioner Tom Wright and Calgary Stampeders owner Ted Hellard unveiled details of the new 14-part cap a day after league governors passed the agreement by a 7-2 margin.
"We feel this will create more of an equitable playing field, which creates stability," Hellard said.
"Do I think (the Stampeders) have gained any kind of a competitive advantage? No. In fact, we're probably at a disadvantage compared to yesterday because we were one of the more stable teams with more money to throw around. But we're more than happy to sacrifice that for stability."
Hellard said the firm salary cap of $3.8 million, a huge increase over the $2.6 million teams were supposed to operate under, is just a minor portion to the sweeping changes. Most teams were already spending in that range.
"To me, that's the least important thing that we did because that number is what teams averaged spending anyhow," Hellard said.
"So that's not a new number and most teams are relatively close to that right now. One or two teams might have $100,000 or $200,000 more room, or some teams might have to come back a couple of hundred thousand bucks but its not a significant issue."
Teams which finish the season $100,000 over the cap will be fined $1 for each extra dollar. For those between $100,000 and $300,000 over, the fines increase to $2 for each dollar over along with a first-round draft pick. Teams exceeding the cap by $300,000 or more will be fined $3 for each dollar over and will also lose a first and second-round pick.
The CFL will expect its member clubs to adhere to the new cap this year but won't begin enforcing payment of fines until 2007.
Under this agreement, CFL teams will have to sign papers fully disclosing their player salaries, bonuses and any side deals involving such perks as cars and living quarters. The league will also hire compliance officers with auditing backgrounds who will have full access to team records.
The CFL will also offer financial rewards to players who inform the league about teams having not disclosed salaries or side deals.
Enforcing the salary cap will roughly cost the CFL $200,000 a year.
The league also boosted active rosters from 40 players to 46. Teams can have 42 players dressed for each game, up from 40, with one extra Canadian and a designated import.
- The CFL trade deadline has been moved up to the 12th week of the regular season (usually early September) instead of later in that month.
- Future considerations in trade must consist of either cash or draft picks, not players.