The Lethbridge Vipers were recently denied entry into the upcoming Canadian Junior Football League expansion. Members of the football club met with staff from the CJFL and attended the AGM for the Prairie Football Conference to talk about why Lethbridge would be a good fit for the league.
Anthony Parker, the founder and president of the Vipers explained why he thinks his team was shunned.
“It felt like a gut punch. After we heard the decision, it was about three years of hard work, planning a lot of the stuff in the community, trying to get this off the ground. And we went to Saskatoon and did the presentation, and everything went really great. And at the end of the day, they said that they still felt that there wasn’t enough financial, I guess, long term sustainability in Lethbridge, and then also that the other teams didn’t want to pick up the bill of having to travel to another city, I guess.”
Bridge City News reached out to the Canadian Junior Football League for comment on the story, but we have yet to hear back.
UPDATE: Randy O’Shaughnessy, the president of the Prairie Football Conference and the CJFL Health and Safety Chairman got back to us and provided a statement:
“The discussion regarding the expansion in Lethbridge was robust and comprehensive. Potential issues were debated. Most were labeled as workable and solvable however the overall concerns for expansion at this time consistently came down to two items.”
- Concern the expansion was sustainable over the long term and any short term expansion would be counter productive and damaging overall to the junior football league and
- Our conference was currently not in a position to support financially the expansion in regards:
- to logistics relating to the travel required of an extra away game i.e. expenses for travel; accommodation; travel of support staff and such
- development of officials in such a short time line.
O’Shaughnessy went on to say, “These items have a cost that our conference currently is not in a position to absorb. It is unfortunate at this time we are not discussing an expansion team in Lethbridge but hopefully some day we will be able to do just that.”