Langley Rams made it official Friday.
Their 2020 season is cancelled.
COVID-19 is to blame.
Actually, the Canadian Junior Football League made that decision, with commissioner Jim Pankovich making the declaration on Thursday, indicating the league plans to come back in 2021.
“It is very disappointing to make this announcement today, but our priority is the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, and team administrators,” Pankovich said.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the #CJFL has determined that it is not feasible to operate a regular season or playoffs for the 2020 season. @tvnatasha @TSN_Sports @Sportsnet @JayOnrait @tsnotoole https://t.co/5JMRfJXrY0 pic.twitter.com/3I5ufdhqCc
— CJFL News (@CJFLnews) August 6, 2020
It was sad news for Langley Rams, said club president Dana Matheson.
“Although we’re certainly disappointed that the season isn’t moving forward, we understand the decision,” Matheson shared with the Langley Advance Times.
“From a financial standpoint it would be very difficult, as the clubs are getting a very late start on attracting corporate sponsors, etc.,” he explained.
“It’s also difficult in a COVID-19 world to attract sponsors when so many businesses are hurting,” said Matheson, whose company – C&D Logistics – is a major sponsor of the team.
“From a volunteer standpoint, it would be difficult to ensure that things are done in accordance with how the health ministry would need us to handle games, ensuring that everything is sanitized and that players, coaches, volunteers, and fans are kept safe,” Matheson added.
“We have issues with travel, social distancing, and we’re a gate-driven league. With 50 to 100 people attending games, it would be hard not to drive clubs into massive debt.”
Clubs are also experiencing issues with the cities in which they operate, he explained, noting that many fields are not open for use.
“It’s unfortunate that 2020 isn’t a go from a Rams perspective, as we have a very strong team and it would have been a great year for our organization,” Matheson said.
“But we understand the larger picture. For the players, they’re certainly disappointed – to say the least – but I think they understand the challenges.”
He hopes to see ages extended next year so that players don’t lose eligibility.
“My guess is that’s what we’ll be working on with the league next,” Matheson said.
The local junior football team made it to the Canadian Bowl championships (on their home turf at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley) last November, only to fall to to the Saskatoon Hilltops 11-6. Prior to that, the Rams earned their spot at the Canadian Bowl by winning the Cullen Cup with a 35-12 victory against the Langford Westshore Rebels.
Is there more to this story?