CFL, players ink 4-year-deal

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:44 AM ET

Labour harmony will continue between the CFL and its players for at least four more years.

The CFL and the CFL Players' Association announced yesterday, six hours before kicking off the 2006 pre-season schedule, that they had agreed on a four-year collective bargaining agreement which takes effect immediately.

"It's a very good deal for both players and the owners," said Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle and player rep Doug Brown.

The last CBA expired May 20, and the players had no problem endorsing the new one, which calls for a minimum team salary of $3 million, more roster spots, improved pension plan contributions, increased training camp compensation, and increased playoff and Grey Cup compensation.

The league is still expected to ratify its $3.8-million salary management system proposal at the CFL board of governors meeting in Winnipeg on June 13.

Another key part of the deal is the players getting 56% of "defined team revenues" on a league-wide basis, which means the cap could increase.

"As revenues grow, the players will share in that growth," said CFLPA president Stu Laird.

Each member of the Grey Cup winning team will receive $14,000 this year, up from $12,000 last year. That figure will reach $16,000 in 2009.

The Grey Cup losing team's players each will receive $7,000 this season (up from $6,000), and that number will increase to $8,000 in 2009.

In addition, the rookie minimum salary will be $38,000 this year (up from $37,000), and increase by $1,000 per season until 2009.

As was reported in January, active roster sizes will increase from 40 to 46, but only 42 -- an additional non-import and an import -- will be allowed to dress for each game.

Practice rosters will increase from six to seven, but they include reserved spots for one player in his draft year and one non-import.

One area the new CBA doesn't address is a substance abuse policy.

However, both sides said that doesn't mean some sort of program won't be instituted before 2009.

"Both the players' association and ourselves are certainly willing and will continue to work towards developing a policy and also developing a communications and awareness program," said commissioner Tom Wright.

Added Laird: "The players are not philosophically opposed, and we will continue to work on the programs to develop during the course of this agreement."

The subject of honouring NFL suspensions in the CFL came up during yesterday's conference call, but Wright said that will be covered under the NFL-CFL agreement, which expires at the end of this season.

Edmonton Eskimos president Hugh Campbell, who helped negotiate the new CBA on behalf of the league, still weighed in on Ricky Williams signing in Toronto.

"I wouldn't support us doing that here in Edmonton," he said. "... If it becomes where it's an issue that could cause embarrassment to our league, as this one possibly could, then I think it's something that has to be discussed."

When Campbell was asked to elaborate on his statements, Wright interjected and asked that the media remain on the topic of the new CBA.


Videos

Photos