A worker paints a CFL logo in Montreal

A worker paints a CFL logo in Montreal

CFL players relieved contract talks over

Veteran McCallum relieved contract impasse with CFL has been resolved

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – B.C. Lions kicker Paul McCallum is looking forward to turning his attention back to football.

The CFL’s labour dispute officially ended Friday when the CFL board of governors ratified the tentative agreement reached last weekend. The CFL Players’ Association accepted the five-year deal Thursday.

The agreement ends a contentious, sometimes bitter four-month negotiation that had CFL players on the brink of a strike.

While the 44-year-old McCallum, the Lions player rep and the league’s oldest active player, was critical of the agreement, he’s happy to have a resolution.

“It’s a relief,” he said during a telephone interview Friday. “I didn’t think it was going to be as much of a distraction as it turned out to be at the end. It’s much better now for the players. It’s over with, we can concentrate on practising and not if we’re going to play so it’s a positive.”

There were plenty of other players who complained publicly about the deal, which includes a $5-million salary cap the first year, more than $1 million less than the union initially wanted but a $600,000 increase over last season.

“It’s definitely a lot of stress off my shoulders,” defensive back Eric Fraser, the Ottawa Redblacks’ player rep, said of the deal being finalized. “It’s good to finally get the vote done and let the players’ voice be heard and get on with playing football.”

Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris, affectionately known as Smilin’ Hank, said he now has another reason to smile.

“For me, I just try to stay busy just so whatever the situation was coming to was going to be what it was,” Burris said. “But once I heard the news, it definitely put a smile on my face.”

The CFLPA didn’t provide a breakdown of votes. A majority of players — 50 per cent plus one — on at least six clubs had to vote in favour of the deal for it to be accepted.

“I know exactly all the figures and I’m not going to tell you,” McCallum said. “We can sit there and talk about shoulda, coulda, woulda . . . but at the end of the day it’s over so we just have to put it behind us. All the guys agreed to take it so I guess that speaks volumes.”

With an agreement in place, the 2014 regular season will kick off June 26 as scheduled. The deal runs through May 15, 2019, or the first day of training camp that year.

But if the combined revenues of the nine teams — excluding the Grey Cup — increase by more than $27 million in any year of the agreement, both sides will renegotiate a boost in the cap starting in the 2016 season.

The contract also changes player classifications from non-imports and imports to nationals and internationals. To be considered a national, the player must be a Canadian citizen when he signed his first contract, classified as a non-import before May 31, 2014, or have lived in Canada for five years before turning 18.

Other highlights include:

— Annual $50,000 salary-cap increases to $5.2 million in 2018

— $4.4-million cap minimum this year and annual $50,000 increases to $4.6 million in 2018

— Minimum salary going from $45,000 to $50,000 and increasing $1,000 annually to $54,000 in 2018

— Both sides increase pension contributions from $3,600 to $3,700 in ’14 and an additional $100 annually to $4,100 in 2018

— A $1,500 rookie ratification bonus and $7,500 for veterans (CFLPA determines the veteran scale and bonuses go to players on rosters as of June 22)

— Boosting active rosters from 42 to 44 players while decreasing reserve roster from four to two players

— Replacing the nine-game injured list with a six-game list (clubs can pull up a maximum of two players early off the six-game list without it counting against the cap for any player remaining on for more than six games)

— Contact in just one practice daily during training camp and once weekly during the regular season

— Eliminating option-year requirement on all but rookie contracts

— Expanding practice rosters from seven to 10 players and 12 to 15 players in the fall portion of the season

“This agreement provides stability for our teams at the same time it improves pay, health and safety, and mobility for players,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement.

Added CFLPA president Scott Flory: “The players are committed to putting the best possible product on the field and are excited to get back to the game that we all love.”

Offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski, a Hamilton Tiger-Cats player rep, says the deal moves the CFL closer to expanding to Halifax because it provides long-term cost certainty.

“Halifax needs to get off its butt and get a stadium done,” Dyakowski said. “We need to get to 10 teams, this is the natural progression.

“Now that we’ve got what I think is a very fair agreement that has a very long term, you can start talking about things like this . . . I think this new deal brings it that much closer to reality.”

More importantly, Dyakowski said it gives football fans a season to look forward to.

“Some people talked about the players making compromises,” he said. “At the end of the day we looked at the situation and decided even if we could squeeze out a better deal the collateral damage wouldn’t have been worth it.”

Fraser said the CFLPA also has the time to firmly establish a sound negotiating strategy for the next CBA.

“We’re going to have to start building now for five years from now so we’re not stuck in this position again where we’re kind of a little bit shortsighted and not well planned enough to make a stand and really ask and receive what we think we deserve,” he said. “In the past it’s always been the league hasn’t been in great shape so we’ve always had to concede.

“This time we were in a position of power and I think that will really help us next time.”

— With files from Lisa Wallace in Ottawa

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read