Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Willie Jefferson celebrates winning the 107th Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. The CFL is planning to kick off a return to the field in 2021 with a rematch of its last Grey Cup contest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Willie Jefferson celebrates winning the 107th Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. The CFL is planning to kick off a return to the field in 2021 with a rematch of its last Grey Cup contest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

Canadian Football League plans to restart play in 2021 with Grey Cup rematch

TORONTO — The CFL is planning to kick off a return to the field in 2021 with a rematch of its last Grey Cup contest.

The league released a 2021 schedule Friday. It didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ‘21 season, if it goes ahead, is scheduled to begin June 10 with Hamilton visiting Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers defeated the Tiger-Cats 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup.

“We’re looking forward to hosting our comeback season in our stadiums, in front of our fans,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “With this schedule, we’re signalling that we’re looking forward with optimism to playing in 2021.”

Whether the CFL can return as planned depends on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada at the time of the proposed start date. Potential hurdles include the status of the Canada/US border, which could impact American players coming north to play football if it is remains closed by then.

It’s also unclear whether fans would be allowed to return to stadium and if so, how many.

The 2021 schedule features more divisional games to reduce travel for teams but also include traditional Labour Day weekend matchups.

The Montreal Alouettes are scheduled to visit the Ottawa Redblacks on Sept. 3 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders set to host Winnipeg on Sept. 5.

The following day, Hamilton is scheduled to host the Toronto Argonauts while the Edmonton Football Club visit the Calgary Stampeders.

Ottawa is scheduled to visit Montreal on Oct. 11 in a Thanksgiving Day matchup.

The CFL playoffs are scheduled to begin Nov. 7 and culminate Nov. 21 with the Grey Cup in Hamilton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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