CFL Introduces SMS and Instant Replay for 2006 Season

All signs pointed to no Salary Management System (SMS) in the CFL for 2006. A plan introduced in January and initially approved by the board of governors, it was rejected by the board when to be formally ratified in May.

Instead, three days before the season was to begin, an announcement that the system would be in place for 2006 with penalties for over-expenditures taking affect in 2007 was made. The system introduced is the same framework outlined in January with only a few minor tweaks and the only major change being the dropping of any mention of a whistle-blowing program for players.

While a new agreement with the CFLPA was one factor, it did not warrant more than a caveat on the ratification that it required agreement with the Players Association. When the announcement of a new four year CBA signed between the League and CFLPA on June 2 was made it obviously accounted for new SMS and SEC since the announcement of those approvals included wording that the system was fully compliant with the new CBA.

This quick reversal on the announcement harkens back to the member clubs and Board of Governors agendas to undermine the commissioner, other clubs or run the league for their own ego. Understanding the infighting and power struggle surrounding the commissioner is difficult. If this is how businessmen like David Braley, Robert Wetenhall and the other private owners conduct themselves then it is a good thing that they work individually and behind closed doors in their private enterprises, lest they expose this type of uncooperative behaviour that puts these power struggles over every issue in the CFL on the front page instead of the game itself.

Another surprise announcement was the introduction of Instant Replay officiating reviews for the 2006 season. Even though it was being tested during all pre-season games, reports before the pre-season were that it would not be implemented for 2006 regular season games. Three days before the regular season was to launch came the announcement that replays were in. Even though pre-season testing needed to be completed, I think an official announcement about its implementation should have been made earlier. This smells again of individual clubs not standing behind the league office, but putting their own interests ahead of the proper united front to say that the CFL will use an Instant Replay system in 2006 prior to the week before the season.

These issues go to the core of the undermining of league authority that has plagued the CFL for so many years. Only in the last five to six years however has the problem grown. The inevitable departure of Tom Wright as commissioner brings no hope however. No matter who is placed in that position, hand picked by the have-clubs or not, he will be in an impossible position, either to kowtow to a small faction of owners who are not the majority or be undermined for trying to look out for the whole league and all member clubs.

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  • October 6, 2007
    Keep NFL out of T.O. → While the intent is honourable, portraying the attitude the CFL can’t compete, is on shaky ground and not worthy of anyone’s attention does not help it in battling age old stereotypes. Based on the last 10 years the CFL should be portrayed as a strong, dynamic, vibrant league that the majority of Canadians support and watch. #
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