With talks between the Canadian Football League and the CFL Players Association at a standstill, the league has taken its message directly to the membership.
Shortly after talks broke off during the latest bargaining session Wednesday morning, the league issued letters to the individual players which proposes a nine per cent increase in the salary cap for this coming season from $4.4 million to $4.8 million, with increases continuing over five season until the salary cap reaches $5,050,000.
The proposal would see the minimum salary increased from $45,000 to $50,000, and the average salary go from - by the league's math - $82,904 to $92,917.
"Unfortunately the union's bargaining team has rejected this offer and instead put forward an unrealistic proposal which, if adopted, would threaten the very existence of the CFL," commissioner Mark Cohon said. "This is why we are now communicating directly to the players."
The CFLPA has taken its message to the fans. In a letter published on the union's Facebook page, the players' association apologized to fans for the state of negotiations and "only want a fair deal that reflects the concept of Players sharing in the potential growth of what we have all built."
"As professionals, we want to be fairly compensated for the fast pace, physical, entertaining game that is on the field. We are in not interested in destroying the game that has given us all so much. We put our bodies, hearts and souls on the line and seek nothing more than to be fairly paid for what we do," the letter, signed by president Scott Flory, CFLPA Executive and All CFL Players, said.
"We understand the limitations, but we also understand what is fair. It is unfortunate that the business side of the game has tarnished what we are building. We want to build a partnership where both sides benefit."
The league has also proposed increasing the size of game day rosters from 42 to 44 players and limiting full contact practices to one per week during the season, with up to 10 more being held during the season at the team's discretion.
In addition, the league is dangling signing bonuses for every player if a deal is ratified by June 2, the first day or training camp. Rookies would receive $1,000 each, with veterans collecting $3,000 apiece.
The latest move by the league comes after a previous offer to the CFLPA was rejected on May 16. The players returned with an offer on May 20, which asked for an increase in the salary cap to $6.24 million for this coming season, with further increases to be built on top of that, starting in 2015, based on sharing in the league's revenue streams.
"We're not going to add revenue sharing to a CBA; we've been crystal clear with the Players' Association about it," said Cohon. "But we will do a deal that shares more revenue. We're saying to the players we're going to pay you more. We're going to up the minimum salary by 11 per cent. Those are all numbers that show we are committed to getting a deal done."
TSN reported Tuesday that the players were planning to propose on Wednesday a formula for the cap based solely on sharing revenue streams that would put the cap at $7 million.