While the Canadian Football League unveils their virtual plans for Grey Cup Week next week, culminating the cancelled 2020 season, Toronto Argonauts President Bill Manning said Thursday his club’s target is to play in 2021.
"The intention obviously is to play," Manning told First Up with Landsberg and Colaiacovo on TSN 1050. "You have a group of committed owners and these coaches are raring to go but we have time to see how this all plays out."
Manning stressed there is still so much unknown about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it could affect sports next year, but added the CFL fortunately doesn’t have to rush into any decisions.
"We want to play football. There are just so many circumstances around the CFL that are important for us to kick a season off. The good thing we have on our side is the season doesn't start until June and so hopefully we're at a point as a community at large that you can play games in stadiums with fans; things which are going to help the CFL, because that's really important."
The CFL contemplated playing a shortened season in a bubble before ultimately cancelling the 2020 season. When asked if the league would consider playing parts or all of 2021 in a bubble, or without fans in the stands, Manning said those are conversations that will have to be had again.
"Possibly. I think it's something that we're going to have to talk about again. The financials are real, just like any business. It's something that the governors and (CFL commissioner) Randy Ambrosie will talk about and make those decisions. We shouldn't necessarily be in a rush because we have to really see how this plays out. We can make all the financial projections we want but three-four months from now we're going to be a lot more educated on what's the reality of it."
Manning, who is also president of Toronto FC, said the pandemic has been challenging for him but he’s happy with how Toronto FC’s season has played out, and would like a chance to see the Argos return to play as well.
"This has really tested me as an executive and as a leader. I'm proud of where Toronto FC is right now and I'd love to work with Michael 'Pinball' Clemons every day. He puts a smile on my face every day. Those guys are ready to play football so we're going to try to do everything we can to get them back on the football field."