2019 CFL Preview: Beginnings of a New Era

cflpreviewIn 2017 the CFL was in a strange spot as their commissioner had just left his role leaving uncertainty for the future of a league needing stability.

Before Jeffrey Orridge took control of the league in 2015, the CFL had enjoyed some of it’s best years under Mark Cohon.

The league was growing and becoming a serious player in multiple markets throughout the country.

The stability that Cohon brought needed to continue but when Cohon stepped down there was a sense of uncertainty.

Even bringing in Orridge was a bit of a controversial move as he was an American who had more experience in TV than in sports.

He was brought in to help the league negotiate a new broadcast deal but after that, the vision for the league didn’t seem to come through.

After Orridge and the Board of Governors disagreed on the way forward the league was left without a leader.

Then came Randy Ambrosie who fit the bill perfectly and was widely accepted as the right choice for the person to lead the league.

He was a former CFL player, a businessman, a Canadian and a former executive at the CFLPA checking all of the boxes.

Still, with Ambrosie, the future wasn’t entirely known as nobody really knew how the league was going to grow.

They had been successful in most of the country and even established a ninth team in Ottawa that has been far more successful than the other two attempts.

Was there going to be an attempt at a 10th team in the league? Could Ambrosie finally solve the issues that surround the biggest markets in the country?

As good as the CFL was doing there were a lot of concerns and a lot more questions facing Ambrosie as he took the reigns.

From the start, it seemed like Ambrosie was willing to make changes as he adjusted rules midway through his first few seasons after fans and players complained about certain rules.

2019 marks a different level of change though as this is the first year of Ambrosie comprehensive plan to help grow the league.

After two years of watching and learning how the league runs, he is ready to now take the league into a new era.

Ambrosie laid out his plan for CFL 2.0 at the end of last season and spent much of the offseason putting that strategy into place.

A big part, and probably the most visible for fans will be the international strategy that the league spent a big part of the offseason attempting to put into place.

Ambrosie spent a lot of the offseason travelling to football leagues around the world trying to make the CFL the professional league of choice in places like Mexico, Austria and Germany.football-sidebar

The CFL signed deals with leagues in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

This deal allowed for the CFL to be broadcast in all of those countries while also providing a path to the CFL for players in those countries.

The league held it’s first global draft this year where players from international leagues got the chance to play professional football in Canada.

Some made it through the cuts and will look to make an impact on the league this year in what could be the start to an interesting strategy that could help the league grow beyond the borders of Canada.

The other aspects of the new plan are more subtle but could have a big impact as the league hopes to concentrate on managing their selling strategy.

Part of the plan to grow is to come up with more than a national strategy and try to grow the league with specific marketing based on regions.

The league will also look to improve its inner workings with better technology as well as coming up with strategies that bring more people to games.

Finally, the league is looking to increase participation in the sport with strategies like their Flag Football program and safe contact program.

All of these aspects of a new plan for the league will truly begin this season when the league starts its new season.

It is the mark that Ambrosie is looking to leave on the league like the mark that Cohon left when he stepped down.

So far things are both good and bad as the international players are having an impact but the big markets remain a major problem.

Meanwhile, a new team is on the horizon to make the league a truly coast-to-coast league and even everything out.

All of the strategies in the world can help grow the game but only the game can help it truly grow.

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