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Toronto Argonauts could leave CFL for XFL in 2023

Toronto Argonauts, XFL
Aug 18, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; The football helmet of Toronto Argonauts running back Martese Jackson (30) sits on the field during warm up against the BC Lions before a Canadian Football League game at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Argonauts are one of the most storied franchises in the Canadian Football League, but the CFL’s 17-time Grey Cup champion could be headed for the XFL in 2023.

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Argonauts, was reportedly the catalyst for partnership talks between the CFL and XFL. But the CFL announced on July 7 that it was no longer negotiating a merge with the league co-owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

As a result, the CFL will move forward with its 2021 season that kicks off in August. While the league is excited to return after suspending its 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is in jeopardy of losing a well-known team.

Dan Ralph of The Toronto Star analyzed the long-term outlook of the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts. Not only did he reveal MLSE was the driving force behind talks of a merger, Ralph also hinted that the Argonauts might leave the CFL for the XFL in 2023.

When Dwayne Johnson and Redbird Capital purchased the league for $15 million in 2020, there was the hope of relaunching within a year. Johnson later announced plans to return in 2022, but that has since been pushed back to a targeted 2023 launch.

While it would be a long time for the Argonauts to wait, there certainly seems to be some incentive to make the move.

The CFL cited financial losses as part of its reasoning for canceling the 2020 season. Furthermore, per The Toronto Sun, the Argonauts reported about $12 million in annual losses. Attendance has also dipped significantly at BMO Field.

Leaving the CFL for a new league might be a way to generate more excitement, especially with the potential promise of an expanded player pool by joining the XFL.

The decision will come down to MLSE, which is looking for any way to increase revenue. Whether that means the Toronto Argonauts joining the XFL or the franchise being put up for sale, everything seems to be on the table.