Montreal businessman Clifford Starke will officially announce Tuesday his intention to buy the Montreal Alouettes, owned by Robert Wetenhall.
Brad Smith, a former CFL receiver with the Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos, is an advisor to the eventual owners group led by Starke. He indicates that Hampstead Private Capital is “more than interested” by the Alouettes.
“It’s not just about a business decision, it’s a passion decision,” he said. This guy wants the team and wants it for the right reasons. ”
Aged 35, Starke has acted as an advisor or director in more than 15 publicly traded companies.
Smith, who is also 35, and Starke grew up together in Montreal in the 2000s. They regularly attended Alouettes games as they were one of the CFL powers. From 2000 to 2010, the team took part in eight finals, winning three Gray Cups.
Smith’s addition to the group is not just about the friendship the two men have for each other. Football has long been the cornerstone of the family, while his father, Larry, now a Conservative senator, played nine seasons in Montreal and twice acted as team president.
After overseeing the relocation of the Baltimore club to Montreal in 1996 as the Canadian League Commissioner, Larry Smith became the Alouettes’ president the following year. He held the position until 2001. After serving as president and publisher of the Montreal Gazette from 2002 to 2004, he returned to the Alouettes until 2010, the last time the team won the Cup. Gray.
“(Starke) has been very successful in a short time,” said Brad Smith. He chose to take advantage of these successes to put his energies into a business that will not be an immediate homerun. For him, it’s about doing something good not only for Montreal, but for him, as a partisan. ”
The Alouettes are going through a slump, having been excluded from the playoff games in the past four seasons, recording a 21-51 record during that period.
Last week, former Alouettes Eric Lapointe said he withdrew his offer because of tight deadlines by the start of the season. The CFL did not respond to Canadian Press interview requests on Monday. Several rumors suggest that the league could take over the team to find a new owner.
It appears that Starke leads this race after Lapointe’s withdrawal.
On the side of the Alouettes, we are content to say that we do not comment on the rumors, without denying that Wetenhall is trying to get rid of the club.
“We want this intention to be taken seriously, we want to be validated as buyers,” said Brad Smith, owner of two restaurants in Toronto. We understand that we are not Serge Savard or Éric Lapointe. We believe, however, that there are too many mysteries surrounding the sale of the team right now.
“Above all, fans deserve to know what’s going on with their team. It is the intention of Mr. Starke and his partners to understand exactly where this process is. We just want to know to people that the group is very serious to evaluate the feasibility of this project. If there is anyone who can realize this project, it is this group.
“This is one of the most important franchises in the CFL and is in trouble. There are people who want to help, why are not we allowed to help? ”
Robert Wetenhall has owned the Alouettes for over 20 years. He relaunched the concession in 1997, after it was taken over by Michael Gelfand and declared bankrupt. Wetenhall also paid off the team’s debts, although he was not legally obliged to do so.
Upon arrival at Wetenhall, the Alouettes were a league powerhouse. Between 1999 and 2012, the Montreal franchise dominated the Eastern section on nine occasions and took part in eight Gray Cup games, including three wins.
The Alouettes’ last title was in 2010. They missed the playoffs in the last four seasons, and had a poor record of 21-51 during that stretch.
Wetenhall is a former minority shareholder of the Boston Patriots, the American Football League, and the New England Patriots in the NFL. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law at McGill University for his work with the Alouettes and the expansion of Percival Molson Stadium.
He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2015.