CFL, players reach deal and avert lockout

Canadian Football League fans received some good news Tuesday.

The CFL player relations committee and the CFL Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement, averting the potential of a lockout during the 2010 season.

The agreement includes a drug-testing policy, the CFL said in a statement. The new deal, subject to ratification by the players and the CFL board of governors, would replace the current collective bargaining agreement which is set to expire on June 5, the day before training camps open.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, the CFL refused to release further details about labour negotiations, echoing an earlier stance taken by commissioner Mark Cohon.

“The negotiations that we’re having with the CFLPA are negotiations that are at the table between the two of us,’’ Cohon said in November. “We’ve agreed with them . . . that we won’t discuss what’s on the table . . . and I want to re-affirm to our fans that we understand that Canadians are important to this game.’’

It had been speculated that the league wanted to reduce to four from seven the number of Canadian-born players who must start on a 42-man roster, comprised of 22 Americans and 20 non-imports. The rationale was that teams can find Americans more cheaply.

A contentious issue appeared to be the percentage of league revenues the players receive. Under terms of the existing four-year deal, ratified in June 2006, players receive 56 per cent of defined team revenues on a league-wide basis. It’s believed the league wants to eliminate that percentage.

The CFLPA was formed in 1965. On June 15, 1974, the league’s players went on strike, marking the first work stoppage by North American pro athletes.

The 2010 CFL regular season is set to kick off on Canada Day.

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