Critical questions as we look at a potential CFL-XFL merger

Before we get any deeper into this post, if you’re anticipating a screed about the rumours of a CFL-XFL merger, you’re going to be disappointed.

Instead what you’re going to read is a relevant set questions of what a merger might mean. And there is zero guarantee a merger is happening.

Here we go…

1. Right now, the CFL includes 9 teams and the XFL 8. An odd number of teams isn’t practical. Does the CFL drop a team, or does the XFL add a team? (Sorry, CFL fans, that long sought 10th team looks dead, at least for now.) Neither is an easy decision, though a new American location should be easy to find. However, …

2. If the CFL drops to 8, which team is most likely to be contracted? The three teams that struggle most at the gate are located in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, three of Canada’s largest cities. Would a merged league dare surrender one of those media-rich locations? Is there really any other option?

3. Will the league operate under Canadian football rules or American ones? It’s doubtful CFL fans would be quick to embrace “American” rules, especially if there’s a perception the XFL is the senior partner in the merger. Don’t forget, there’s a rich tradition of professional and collegiate football in Canada; and if enough of those fans walk away from the merged league, then what?

4. Will the league’s headquarters be located in a Canadian city or an American one? This has much more to do with just symbolism. The headquarters is the “home” of the organization.

5. The leagues operate on distinct schedules, and a major compromise is needed. What will that look like? The CFL season ends during the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, which is roughly two-thirds of the way through the NFL season. The XFL season doesn’t overlap the NFL season, and by design. Start the CFL-XFL season in February, you say? Have you been to Canada then?

6. Would the new league operate with two conferences, like the NFL, which guarantees a Canadian and American team in the championship game?

7. And speaking of championships, is the Grey Cup the trophy handed to the winning team? For a majority of CFL fans (on both sides of the border), it had better be, or else Canadian professional football is dead.

And the most important question…

8. Some fan base, maybe both, is going to see a significant change to how “their” league operates. Will they support that? If they do, the new league, no matter its name, might survive. If they don’t, uh oh.

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