The 2024 Season - An Overseas Perspective

By Chris Lawton

It has become an annual tradition that during the festive season the CFL reveals the schedule for the coming season. This year has been no different, as the 2024 schedule was released in mid-December. Much like when the NFL schedule drops, different CFL teams have different ways of reacting to their own schedule, like in this example from the Saskatchewan Roughriders

As ever, people have made something of it like ‘must see’ games, Top 10 games of the coming season, and 2024 Labour Day games. All of which got me to thinking. We often look back at these games here at The Touchdown,  like with the preview to last season’s Labour Day weekend slate. But what about looking ahead? While people have their reasons, such as long-term or recent rivalries, or annual classics like the Banjo Bowl, what would make for a good game for UK based fans to watch?

Then it hit me. For us on this side of the pond, the most important thing might just be time. We already struggle if we are following West Coast teams because their home games are so late night/early morning over here. But what teams, and games, are there that will be at a good time for us to be awake, fresh, and ready to watch in the coming season?

The Preseason Is UK Fan Friendly

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Take a look at the 2024 schedule, and the first thing that jumps out is how UK fan friendly these 3 weeks are. Week one of preseason for example opens with Winnipeg at Saskatchewan at 9PM UK time – perfectly reasonable.

It goes on to have games at 7PM UK time the following week as Ottawa face Hamilton, and then again for Saskatchewan against Edmonton, and BC at Calgary. By Week 3 of the CFL preseason next year most of the games are later, but the last one with Hamilton at Toronto is at a great time, – 7PM UK time on Saturday June the 1st.  That’s right – you can start watching professional American Football courtesy of the CFL from May the 20th onwards. A great way o fill the void that so many NFL and college ball fans complain of.

The Regular Season

Once we hit the regular season however there is quite the adjustment to make as a lot of the early season games are played much later. Meaning that the ‘early’ kick-offs for us are at midnight. Not that American football fans in the UK aren’t used to that sort of thing of they have been following NFL or college football for a few years!

There’s an adage around the CFL that the season ‘really starts’ once you hit Labour Day weekend. That’s when rivalries ramp up, and when the run into the post-season gains’ momentum. Which is great for UK based fans because that is also when earlier games appear on the slate too. In Week 13 on Monday September the 2nd the Toronto Argonauts travel to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7:30PM UK time. A great viewing time.

The following week sees Toronto again in an early game, this time travelling to Ottawa for a 6PM kick-off on Saturday September the 7th. That day also sees the Banjo Bowl matchup between Saskatchewan and Winnipeg kicking off at 9PM.

The East Coast teams really keep serving up watchable game times at this time of year as on Saturday September the 14th Ottawa travel to play Hamilton at 9PM UK time.

Week 16 gives us another early Eastern teams game as the defending Grey Cup Champions the Montreal Alouettes travel to Ottawa at 9PM on Saturday the 21st of September.

For a change of pace Week 17 gives us an early game out West as Saskatchewan hosts Ottawa at 9PM UK time on Saturday September the 28th.

While all the games are a little late in Week 18, Week 19 gives us a double dose of ‘early’ games by UK timings. First off Edmonton travel to Calgary at 9PM on Saturday October the 12th, before Ottawa travel to Montreal at 6PM UK time on Monday October the 14th.

The final two weeks of the season give us another couple of 9PM kick-offs. Firstly on Saturday October the 19th as Ottawa travel to Toronto and finally on Saturday October the 26th as Winnipeg make it out East to Montreal.

The Playoffs

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So, you made it through the regular season. As a casual fan perhaps, you found a couple of games at watchable times on this list and gave it a go. Or, as a more committed fan you followed your team through as much as you could stay awake for. The CFL game itself is fast and fun so the staying awake shouldn’t be that hard! But what about the playoffs? How will we fare here? Pretty well actually

No playoff game kicks off later than 11:30 PM. The Easter Semi-Final is on Saturday November the 2nd and will be at 7PM UK time. Followed by the Western Semi-Final at 10:30PM. Back-to-back playoff games in a very watchable chunk.

The Eastern Final will be played at 8PM UK time on Saturday November the 9th then followed by the Western Final at 11:30. If you only watch one you are still going to see one of the Grey Cup teams qualify.

Finally, the 111th Grey Cup. This will be played on Sunday November the 17th at BC Place in Vancouver and will be played at 11PM UK time. Given that last year the Super Bowl kicked off at 11:30PM UK time and had a good following, this is a pretty comparable time for the championship game.

There you have it. Hopefully you can pick out some games for the coming CFL season that pique your interest. Or, if you have a casual interest, find some games to watch at an early time to get a feel for the 3 down game and see if any teams appeal to you. Or, as a long-term fan perhaps you are already ringing your calendar and thinking ahead with the annual CFL battle cry ‘Is it June yet?’ ringing in your ears.  Whatever the case, it will be a lot of fun, as always, to see how the 2024 season plays out on the field. I can’t wait to see you there!



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK