CFL Exploring Partnership With U.S. Spring League

The Canadian Football League hovers on the verge of a canceled season, but an unusual proposition has surfaced that would potentially open the door to the CFL playing games in 2020.

Brian Woods, CEO of an American-based developmental league known as The Spring League, reached out to CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie about a partnership to form a 14-team alliance that would hold games during fall weekdays, according to Dan Ralph of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Ambrosie asked Woods for a proposal to take to the CFL’s board of governors, Ralph adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to cancel the CFL season. Ambrosie said recently September is a best-case scenario for the league starting what would be an abbreviated season. He asked the Canadian government for financial assistance, per Ralph.

It does not appear CFL teams would play full 18-game schedules if a partnership with The Spring League happens, but the league combining with an American developmental league would be one of the more interesting developments in recent football memory. The Spring League is seeking to align with the CFL this year to play games Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays this September, Ralph reports.

In operation since 2017, The Spring League consists of four teams — which would be upped to five to match up with the CFL’s nine — that plays a handful of games per year in March and April. The CFL has previously signed players who have played in The Spring League, which has also seen the likes of Johnny Manziel, Ahmad BradshawZach Mettenberger and Greg Hardy suit up since its inception. The league has already played games this year — in Las Vegas — and defeated the Japanese national team in an exhibition game held in March in Frisco, Texas.

Additionally, a CFL-Spring League union would be open to college players — should the coronavirus impact the 2020 college season. The games would take place in the United States. Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, Atlanta, Dallas, and Nashville are on the list for potential host cities, Ralph notes. Interestingly, this plan would use both American and Canadian football rules, depending on the teams involved in certain games.

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16 comments on “CFL Exploring Partnership With U.S. Spring League

  1. ahale224

    There’s apparently an American Football World Cup. And Japan has won it. Next one is Australia 2023

    • HubcapDiamondStarHalo

      I appreciate that information – I knew nothing of it! Looks like I have some reading to do…

  2. Ak185

    Interesting. Japan, the U.K., Australia, and Germany have decently large international gridiron communities. I think there is also an International Pathways player from a French league as well, which I didn’t know existed. Basically, if they have rugby or had G.I.s for an extended period, I think you’ll find a league there.

    I’m not sure whose rules all of them use, but a good NFL alternative would be nice, and I don’t think the NFL would hate it, since there is no chance of it actually competing ratings-wise. Could be a good transition place, especially in a league with players who have been in the NFL (like Mettenberger) who can help speed along inexperienced players and help point out prospects to their old contacts in the league.

    • There’s definitely smatterings of leagues globally. I live in New Zealand and my city has two “Gridiron” teams here – one of which plays about 5 minutes drive from my house, by converting a rugby field. 1.5 hours drive up the road to Auckland, and you’ll find a few more teams up there.

      It’s a popular choice of sport for people who have stopped playing rugby union or rugby league, or want to stay active during their offseasons.

  3. Won’t work easily. CFL has 12 men out on the field. Plays designed for 12 men can’t be run by 11 and vice versa. Dual rules system will be a mess. Spring league should just adopt Canadian rules for the trial season. Offers a bit of variation over the NFL.

    • Polish Hammer

      Twelve players, 3 downs and much larger fields makes it much harder to just say they’d change them on the fly depending on the teams playing.

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