Actualités By Stu Cowan 1086 Views

Clifford Starke withdraws his intent to purchase the Alouettes

Montreal businessman Clifford Starke has withdrawn his intent to purchase the Alouettes.

“As of 5 p.m. Eastern time today, July 2, 2019, I am officially withdrawing my intent to purchase the Montreal Alouettes from the Canadian Football League,” Starke said in a statement sent out by email Tuesday afternoon.

“My partners and I firmly still believe that we have created the ideal ownership structure, offer, executive team, and strategy that would have ensured the best possible outcome for the Alouettes,” Starke added. “Currently, there isn’t a competitive offer that would combine both a solid business understanding and a Canadian football related acumen, as my proposed offer.

“Our deadline for action from the CFL has expired, as too has the lifespan of our intent to purchase.”

The chairman of Hampstead Private Capital first made public his interest in purchasing the Alouettes in April, adding he hoped to buy them before the CFL season kicked off. Starke presented a new proposal to CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie last month, committing $35 million and showing proof of funds. It is believed Larry Smith — the former Alouettes player, team president and CFL commissioner — would have played a key role on the executive board of Starke’s group. Starke added former Alouettes player and financial consultant Éric Lapointe to his group last month to become a strategic adviser.

“Adding Éric just adds a component that should put us over the top,” Starke told the Montreal Gazette at the time. “We believe that a lot of the downfall of the last eight years with the Alouettes was the alienation of the francophone community because that was always such a large part of the rise of the Alouettes.”

Lapointe was the leader of one of three groups that went public with their interest in purchasing the Alouettes from the CFL before the season started, along with Vincenzo Guzzo, the president and CEO of Cinémas Guzzo, and Starke. Lapointe’s group and Guzzo both dropped out.

The CFL has recently been negotiating with Peter and Jeff Lenkov, who grew up in Chomedey and live in California. Peter is a Hollywood producer/writer, while Jeff is a lawyer.

After adding Lapointe to his group, Starke said he had committed a lot of time and resources to his bid for the Alouettes and that he would retract his offer on July 2 if there was no conversation with the CFL in order to focus on his main business interests. That’s what happened.

The Alouettes, who have missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons and are off to an 0-2 start this year, will play their home opener Thursday at Molson Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The CFL took over ownership of the Alouettes from Bob Wetenhall and his son, Andrew, at the end of May with reports the franchise had lost $50 million since Wetenhall purchased the team in 1997, including $25 million during the last three years and $12.5 million last season.