Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

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Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Can some one enlighten me on why CFL player costs are only 17% of gross revenue while NFL are 45%+ . I understand revenue is much higher in the NFL.. But that should mean player salaries should be a lower percentage of gross.

I’d like to see pie chart on team average revenue and expenses by category before and after 2020.
I get that travel expenses for a Team in Canada . A lot of long trips with 75 or more personnel. This will be will be very high compared even to the NFL.

I especially would like to see what the teams were contributing to league office overhead as a % of revenue. Did I hear right that their were 100 people employed at the CFL head office and a lot were let go recently. For a nine team league 100 person head office is crazy. Did that include referees maybe.?

Another area I would like to see is team office overhead as a percentage of revenue.
They cut back on coaches this year. You wonder do the cuts equal the same % as a the players.

The CFL has never been very transparent. The fact that Ambrosie was not really prepared to share these numbers with the feds initially, when when they were begging for $50 Mill This is both laughable and very telling

Welcome any comments that might shed light on this.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

The CFLPA has said that player costs amount to 30% of CFL revenues. The league has agreed to open up its books to players more regularly, which is a positive development. Annual league revenue was believed to be about $210 million before the pandemic, which would equate to about $23 million per team. The revenue across the league varies widely, though. Here's a breakdown of known figures by Dan Barnes of Postmedia:
The Saskatchewan Roughriders punch well above their weight class, with a league-leading $40 million in revenues in their 2019 financial statement. Winnipeg reported $36 million, Edmonton $23 million. That leaves the remaining six privately owned teams to combine for about $110 million, with the laggards in Toronto, Montreal and B.C.
I'd love to see more transparency. One of the problems of league-wide comparisons is the lack of standardized accounting practices. I haven't looked at the financial statements of the publicly owned teams for a few years but some teams regularly reported net concession and merchandising income as revenue whereas Saskatchewan, for example, reported the wholesale cost of concession food and merchandise as expenses and the gross sales income as revenue, thereby making their total revenue and expenses seem much higher. That makes comparisons difficult, especially when calculating the players' share of total team expenses.

The league has taken a number of steps to cut expenses for 2021. It cut the football operations cap by 20% to $2 million, which has prompted teams to eliminate coaching and scouting positions and, in the Lions' case, to not hire a full-time GM. According to Randy Ambrosie, teams have been working to streamline non-football expenses. I'd expect them to follow the example of many businesses and save money by centralizing some business operations rather than having nine offices across the country doing the same back-office functions.

As mentioned in another thread, the league has reportedly encouraged teams to keep 2021 player costs closer to the salary-cap floor of $4.75 million rather than the cap of $5.35 million.

Here are a couple of good overviews of the league's financial situation and business plans from Barnes:
Players not willing to take the fall for CFL's financial woes

Revenue sharing will be on the table when CFL looks to change business model


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

I've regularly pulled the annual reports of the 3 community clubs as they do shed a lot of light on what might be happening with the private teams. Still it's not easy to make any apples to apples comparisons due to the different ways things are reported and the different structures teams have when it comes to leases, rents, concessions, merchandise etc. It's more like trying to compare an apple to an orange to a banana to a grapefruit. As BCF says the Riders typically listed gross concession and merchandise revenues as revenue while listing the related expenses as expenses which makes for an impressive revenue figure. Meantime Edmonton and Winnipeg might simply list their net profit of those things as revenue. Of note when it comes to merch the Riders used to operate I think 4 retail outlets, 2 in Regina and 2 in Toontown. Given that their profit margins were quite slim. They downsized to 1 location in Saskatoon early this year prior to Covid. Gist of the Rider statements in the last few years is that without the net profits from concessions and merch the would struggle to break even.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

To answer the question about CFL employees I came across something earlier today that indicated the league had 155 employees. I suspect that would include the zebras as they are employed by the league, not the teams despite accusations by Rider fans. Same article indicated the NHL has 1000 employees, NBA 3200 and NFL 3750. MLS I think was 580.

As for where the CFL gets their operating revenues it's not a case of teams sending them money. They would get their operational funds from getting a cut of things like the TV contracts, corporate sponsorships, CFL licensing agreements etc. They in turn disburse payments to the 9 teams for their shares. This can be seen in the statements of the 3 community teams who each show a revenue entry in their financial statements to the effect of CFL Contributions with a number in the $4.5M range.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Stumbled onto the University of Guelph's football ops team and was surprised to see so many involved. They would have to cut to meet the new CFL rules.

I was checking to see if Mike O'Shea Jr was draft eligible and was surprised to see him listed as a receiver. Would have expected a linebacker but could be he takes after his mom. 2 more years of eligibility listed.

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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

interesting subject and I saw an inflammatory article in last few days saying CFL players are getting screwed.

certainly, a lot of moving parts.............

not sure a small league should have player costs remotely close to a big league as % of revenue................. basic non-discretionary costs much higher as % of revenue for smaller revenue flow. like airfare and hotel rooms.

CFL definitely has a perception issue....... should have handled a lot of stuff differently before and during COVID.

as to getting to a proper % of revenue number, there are at least 3 streams to look at. tickets (incl. ancillary revenues like food/drinks), media and merchanding........ merchandising and media I would think have fewer direct costs against them. tickets have more (like rent of building).. so another reason for % of revenue to not be as high for CFL.

I think the really inflammatory article I saw overlooked the fact that CFL franchises are not overly profitable, nor overly valuable................. if you own a $1.5B franchise, then you might take a pretty significant short-term loss to protect that asset... if you have a (questionable value) $10MM asset, why lose $2-3MM to protect it? . the article suggested Bob Young, MLSE and Calgary Sports (I'd never heard of it myself) are rich, but I don't see that as highly relevant.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

cms22 wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:47 pm Calgary Sports (I'd never heard of it myself) are rich, but I don't see that as highly relevant.
Calgary Sports & Entertainment was spun out of the Calgary Flames Limited Partnership in 2012 when they took over controlling interest in the Stampeders. Under that umbrella now are Calgary Flames (NHL), Calgary Stampeders (CFL), Calgary Roughnecks (NLL), Calgary Hitmen (WHL) and Stockton Heat (Flames AHL farm team). They also manage the Scotiabank Saddledome on behalf of the City of Calgary. They're kind of a poor man's version of MLSE and close to par with Canuck Sports & Entertainment. They have more teams under their umbrella than does Aquilini but Aquilini owns his own arena.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

thank you... i figured as much on Calgary Sports.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

cms22 wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:47 pm interesting subject and I saw an inflammatory article in last few days saying CFL players are getting screwed.


I think the really inflammatory article I saw overlooked the fact that CFL franchises are not overly profitable, nor overly valuable................. if you own a $1.5B franchise, then you might take a pretty significant short-term loss to protect that asset... if you have a (questionable value) $10MM asset, why lose $2-3MM to protect it? . the article suggested Bob Young, MLSE and Calgary Sports (I'd never heard of it myself) are rich, but I don't see that as highly relevant.

CFL definitely has a perception issue....... should have handled a lot of stuff differently before and during COVID.
Maybe players could be paid a bit better but it bears pointing out that no one forces them to play in the CFL. Many who are playing here are looking for a chance to showcase themselves for NFL possibilities; some have gone past their NFL opportunities and are simply looking for someplace to play and others just love playing the game wherever. It isn't like there are a lot opportunities elsewhere to play this game. I would argue that one singular change should be made and that is on the issue of guaranteed contracts. A contract isn't really a contract if one side can just walk away at any time without regard for the term of the contract. Teams might be a little bit more judicious in how they treat and sign players if they were on the hook for the term and amount of the contract. There are up and down sides to this approach but I think the end, you would probably have a lot more parity in the amounts of pay that players receive and a lot fewer cherry picked salaries. What's more, players in turn can actually have some security and plan their lives around those contracts. If you sign a 2 year deal, you know you are set for 2 years, being cut is not an issue. Would give players time and ability to find other employment, transition to retirement etc.

In some ways employment in the CFL should be considered like that job we have probably all had at some point in our life. We all know that job isn't going to make us rich, that opportunities for advancement might be a bit thin on the ground etc. etc. Good for maybe 2 or 3 years but really just a plank to step on while working towards better opportunities. And in athletics this is magnified. In many other professions, the ravages of age don't really start to kick in till much later. If you want a career in football, you have better have a solid plan for the future because like in any professional sports league, your time is short, the risks are high and the future can be very dark if you aren't ready for life after sport.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Good post Sir Purrcival.

I would like to add that few professions require harder work than attaining a career in athletics. Certainly not politics or accounting or real estate.... When you think of the few that reach the highest levels it might be a wise thought to caution against such a lofty pursuit given the investment required.

I am a fan of guaranteed contracts and agree that perhaps GM's would spend their money more prudently if they were held to the deals that they make. The lack of an alternative plays into the owners hand. 2022 CBA will be very interesting


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

I'm not sold on the guaranteed contract concept. It just doesn't seem a fit for a sport structured like football, particularly with the current training camp and preseason structure being what it is. Teams now are faced with making calls on rookies after only a handful of padded practices, a bunch of helmets and sweats only sessions and a limited number of exhibition game reps. They make their best judgment knowing full well they won't know for sure if they made the right call until half a dozen games into the season. Guarantee the contracts and teams have no options to correct mistakes until the contract expires. The NHL guarantees contracts but they also can sign players to 2 way contracts and assign players to the minors for more grooming or in some cases to bury bad contracts. The CFL has no such luxury. When teams make their final cuts before the season starts they'd have to do so knowing that they are stuck with all the players they didn't cut. For those who did get cut and don't get a PR offer injuries are the only thing that would open up opportunities until next offseason.

Fans think player turnover might be reduced by guaranteeing contracts. I don't if that would be the case. If I was a CFL GM working with guaranteed contracts I'd be wanting to have as many players signed to 1 year deals as I possibly could. I'd only risk a multi-year contract on established players who have not yet reached the end of their prime. IMO the current rules for rookie contracts would have to be tossed out and replaced. Rookies are currently expected to sign mandatory multi-year contracts. If that were in place under guaranteed contracts if anything it would greatly reduce the chances of the rookie making the club.

A good example I can think of is the much villified Gary Butler. Buono took a bit of a shine to him (the linked article sheds some light) and he made final cuts. Beamish also talks about how such things are not uncommon across all CFL and NFL teams. Regardless had guaranteed contracts been in place then the Lions and their fans would have been stuck with Butler until his contract expired. As it was they corrected the error and cut him after 8 games.
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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Hambone wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 2:51 pm I'm not sold on the guaranteed contract concept. It just doesn't seem a fit for a sport structured like football, particularly with the current training camp and preseason structure being what it is. Teams now are faced with making calls on rookies after only a handful of padded practices, a bunch of helmets and sweats only sessions and a limited number of exhibition game reps. They make their best judgment knowing full well they won't know for sure if they made the right call until half a dozen games into the season. Guarantee the contracts and teams have no options to correct mistakes until the contract expires. The NHL guarantees contracts but they also can sign players to 2 way contracts and assign players to the minors for more grooming or in some cases to bury bad contracts. The CFL has no such luxury. When teams make their final cuts before the season starts they'd have to do so knowing that they are stuck with all the players they didn't cut. For those who did get cut and don't get a PR offer injuries are the only thing that would open up opportunities until next offseason.

Fans think player turnover might be reduced by guaranteeing contracts. I don't if that would be the case. If I was a CFL GM working with guaranteed contracts I'd be wanting to have as many players signed to 1 year deals as I possibly could. I'd only risk a multi-year contract on established players who have not yet reached the end of their prime. IMO the current rules for rookie contracts would have to be tossed out and replaced. Rookies are currently expected to sign mandatory multi-year contracts. If that were in place under guaranteed contracts if anything it would greatly reduce the chances of the rookie making the club.

A good example I can think of is the much villified Gary Butler. Buono took a bit of a shine to him (the linked article sheds some light) and he made final cuts. Beamish also talks about how such things are not uncommon across all CFL and NFL teams. Regardless had guaranteed contracts been in place then the Lions and their fans would have been stuck with Butler until his contract expired. As it was they corrected the error and cut him after 8 games.
https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blo ... ard-winner
Well said. Anyone who attends training camp can see that there's little opportunity to evaluate players under game conditions with the limited amount of contact sessions and only two preseason games. Depth charts are set in the offseason. It takes as many as 6 games in the regular season for coaches to refine their rosters.

CFL veterans already have the tools to guarantee part or all of their salaries each season. Signing bonuses, roster bonuses and report-and-pass bonuses allow players to collect part of their salary up front. Veterans who have been in the league for 6 years or more have their full season's pay guaranteed if they are released after Game 9. The guarantee kicks in at 10 games for 5-year vets and 11 games for 4-year vets.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

B.C.FAN wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:56 pm Well said. Anyone who attends training camp can see that there's little opportunity to evaluate players under game conditions with the limited amount of contact sessions and only two preseason games. Depth charts are set in the offseason. It takes as many as 6 games in the regular season for coaches to refine their rosters.
You comment has me thinking especially about OL. They spend far more time through training camp engaging the blocking sleds and each other in drills over on the other grass practice field at TRU than actually butting heads with the DL in anything simulating game situations. The days of 4 preseason games will never return to help coaching staffs make better more lasting cutdown decisions. That makes rosters a work in progress for the first third of the season. In some ways the roster for Week 1 is more like a first draft.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Hambone wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 3:32 pm I've regularly pulled the annual reports of the 3 community clubs as they do shed a lot of light on what might be happening with the private teams. Still it's not easy to make any apples to apples comparisons due to the different ways things are reported and the different structures teams have when it comes to leases, rents, concessions, merchandise etc. It's more like trying to compare an apple to an orange to a banana to a grapefruit. As BCF says the Riders typically listed gross concession and merchandise revenues as revenue while listing the related expenses as expenses which makes for an impressive revenue figure. Meantime Edmonton and Winnipeg might simply list their net profit of those things as revenue. Of note when it comes to merch the Riders used to operate I think 4 retail outlets, 2 in Regina and 2 in Toontown. Given that their profit margins were quite slim. They downsized to 1 location in Saskatoon early this year prior to Covid. Gist of the Rider statements in the last few years is that without the net profits from concessions and merch the would struggle to break even.
One thing about those annual reports is that they are cleaned up pretty good by the accountants before being made public.

Winnipeg annual game day expenses equal player salaries before any payment is applied to the stadium for even the offices or Bomber store rent. They have a sweetheart management deal with free run of the facility and usually declare a $5M or so profit with half going to the stadium fund. Haven't seen or heard anything for 2020 yet which should be very interesting.


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Re: Comparison of player costs NFL to CFL

Murdoch wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 2:01 pm
One thing about those annual reports is that they are cleaned up pretty good by the accountants before being made public.

Winnipeg annual game day expenses equal player salaries before any payment is applied to the stadium for even the offices or Bomber store rent. They have a sweetheart management deal with free run of the facility and usually declare a $5M or so profit with half going to the stadium fund. Haven't seen or heard anything for 2020 yet which should be very interesting.
They're really intended to be a Coles Notes version for presentation purposes at their Annual General Meetings. From what I remember I think the Lions reports were quite similar back when they were community owned. I wish I still had the copies. It would be fun to compare early 80s numbers and operating costs to today.

I'm most curious to see them this year too as they will give good indication of just how badly all teams have been impacted. In particular it will be most interesting to see the impact of Covid on their respective rainy day/stabilization funds accounts. I suspect they have been all but exhausted. EFC usually has their AGM in first week of May. Bombers' I think comes out a bit earlier. Both clubs operate on a fiscal year end of Dec 31. Riders fiscal year end is March 31. Their report usually doesn't come out until last week or so of June.


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