A proposal to serve as a conversation starter, would like to discuss practical ways the two leagues could work together till all sides are satisfied a full merger is going to work or even should happen.
Starting in 2022 have the CFL and XFL share a draft, the purpose of those recruited by the XFL will be to start community outreach development of their markets in preparation for starting play in 2023.
The CFL will run its season in 2022 more or less normally, though maybe with some minor rule changes and hopefully a game played by each team in most of the XFL US markets to build interest and exposure.
The XFL will expand to 9 teams, three divisions of 3 teams and a 12 game schedule. Two games against their own division and one against the remaining teams in the XFL for a total of 10 games, then one home and one away game with the CFL to round to 12.
XFL 9th team being either San Diego or San Antonio, SD will have its new stadium finished by then with 35k seating capacity and SA averaged over 27k fans a game in the AAF.
The CFL will switch to a 20 game season for 2023 dropping preseason games in exchange for just spring scrimmages and combined training camps.
2023 draft will be end of February or start of March. XFL season starting at end of March beginning of April and the CFL starting end of April beginning of May.
The CFL will play 10 games, 8 games within the CFL and one home and one away with the XFL.
The XFL season and the first half of the CFL season will end at the end of June early July, with July being combined playoffs for a new cup. Inter-league games will be host city rules.
For playoff formats there could be many options, from simple 4 teams from each league in simple elimination, though i think perhaps something different should be tried.
Say 3 teams automatically from each league, then the 4th and 5th place teams play each other for the 4th playoff spot. During that same week the top two XFL teams will play each other for the XFL cup.
Then 4th seed will play 1st seed, 3rd vs 2nd, winner advancing till its the XFL vs CFL. Now for regular season interleague play we will use the MLB system of host city rules. This way Americans and Canadians are exposed to variety of rules and both sides get some practice in anticipation of the cup match. Also to feel out which are truly better long-term for the game as a whole.
As for how home field advantage will be handled for the inter-league championship there are options. In MLB the leagues alternate home field every season, in many soccer leagues they play two games one at each other's stadium and combined total points of the two games determines the winner.
I think the soccer method would be the best solution as it wouldn't require either side to sacrifice rules or give one or the other advantage. Also it would allow for the selection of site in Canada and the US for each half of the combined Cup game.
Then in August the CFL resumes its season playing its remaining 10 games and playoffs as usual with the Grey Cup in November. Then this format could be used for several seasons till we are satisfied the XFL is actually here to stay and stable.
Once that happens the leagues could begin a process of full merger, at this point there would be trust and respect for the various rules and a general sense of which should be kept and those not. Or if the split rule format is popular and working well leave it, just then have each league start expanding, possibly even expanding into each other's countries with teams that play by that leagues rules.
This should be the case say for Mexico expansion, having a team or two in Mexico for each league, thus when expanding out of the US/CA no one set of rules dominates, but remains even, a 1 to 1 ratio.
If the XFL folds then the CFL never made any radical changes but gained audience and market share. We could build into the deal that we get right of first refusal to acquire any US based teams we want to incorporate into CFL proper if we feel it makes sense.
This strategy is a win win for all. XFL gets our support in standing up and our credibility to leverage ad dollars in media deals and exposure. We get access to their capital and marketing prowess, massive exposure to new markets both US and internationally, but also drive interest and excitement in Canada for our game hopefully revitalizing our struggling teams.