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CFL franchises will operate under a new $3.8-million salary cap this season.
CFL commissioner Tom Wright and Calgary Stampeders owner Ted Hellard unveiled details of the new cap Wednesday, a day after league governors ratified the 14-part agreement by a vote of 7-2 during meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"This new system is designed for the longterm," Wright said. "We expect it to survive all of us . . . and ensure economic stability for our clubs."
The highlight of the agreement is the $3.8-million cap, which is a huge increase from the $2.6 million teams had to operate under last year.
However, Hellard said during a conference call that governors reached the $3.8-million mark after learning that clubs spent an average of $3.75 million on player salaries last year.
"It wouldn't be unfair to disclose that the spread between the top and bottom was $700,000," Hellard said.
CFL governors will re-examine the cap issue in January 2007, at which time they could decide whether to increase or decrease the amount or keep it at $3.8 million.
Teams who finish the season $100,000 over the cap will be fined $1 for each dollar they're over. For those between $100,000 and $300,000 over, the fines increase to $2 for each dollar over along with a first-round draft pick. Teams more than $300,000 over will be fined $3 for each dollar over also lose a first and second-round pick.
While teams will have to adhere to the new cap this year, the league won't begin enforcing payment of fines until next season.
At the end of each season, teams must file papers fully disclosing the salaries they paid to each player, including any side deals. The CFL will also hire compliance officers with auditing backgrounds to help enforce the cap.
The league will also offer financial rewards to players who successfully prove that teams have not reported all salaries.
Teams that don't disclose all side deals will be penalized five per cent of league distribution. A second offence will result in a 10 per cent penalty, with that increasing to 20 per cent on the third occasion.
The CFL also boosted active rosters from 40 players to 46. Teams can have 42 players dressed for each game - again up from 40 - with the extras being one Canadian and a designated import.
The four other players will be those who have minor injuries or are healthy scratches. In past years, teams merely put those players on the one-game injured list as a way of hiding them from the cap.
But the CFL has eliminated the one-game injury list. Now, if a player is hurt, he is placed on a four-game injured list, meaning he's out at least four games and his salary counts against the cap. Upon his return, a team must either place the player on its active roster for at least two games.
Players who are seriously injured can continue to go on the nine-game list and don't count towards the cap.
Practice rosters have also been increased from six to seven players. At least two of those spots must go to Canadian-born players.
The practice roster will be increased to 12 players when NFL teams begin their cuts to allow CFL teams to bring those players in for a look.