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CFL takes over ownership of Montreal Alouettes franchise

Announcement marks second time in roughly 4 years that the CFL has taken over operating the club
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Mario Cecchini speaks to the media during a CFL news conference, Monday, January 13, 2020 in Montreal. The CFL has taken over operating the Alouettes franchise. In a statement, the league added former Alouettes president Cecchini has been appointed interim president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The Canadian Football League has again taken over operating the Montreal Alouettes.

The CFL made the announcement Tuesday, adding former Alouettes president Mario Cecchini has been appointed interim president

In a statement, the CFL said Cecchini will lead the franchise’s day-to-day operations under supervision from the league office. General manager Danny Maciocia will continue “to focus on the important work of building the team’s roster for the upcoming 2023 season.”

The announcement comes on the first day of CFL free agency.

“The CFL has informed the CFLPA that they will assume ownership of the Montreal Football Club effective immediately, as the former ownership group has relinquished control,” the CFL Players’ Association said in a statement. “All club operations will resume, including free agency and preparation for the 2023 CFL season.

“The league will fund all day-to-day operational expenses and continue to ensure all the financial obligations are met.”

This marks the second time in roughly four years that the CFL has taken over operating the Alouettes. It did so May 31, 2019 from Robert and Andrew Wetenhall.

The CFL sold the Alouettes to Ontario businessmen Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern, Spiegel’s son-in-law, in January 2020. But Spiegel died in July 2021 having never seen the club play as the CFL didn’t operate in 2020 due to the global pandemic.

Spiegel’s estate had maintained a 75 per cent ownership stake in the franchise, with Stern assuming the other 25 per cent.

The CFL says it has “initiated an accelerated and formal sales process, which is being led by its investment banking partner, Park Lane, a leading sports-focused advisory firm whose clients include major league sports properties around the world.”

The league added “multiple parties” have expressed “serious interest” in purchasing the Alouettes, including individuals, groups and businesses “that reside or operate in Montreal or elsewhere in Quebec.”

“The CFL wants to express its deep gratitude for their stewardship of the Alouettes,” the CFL stated. “Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern purchased the team in 2020 at a critical time in its history.

“Following Sid’s sad passing in 2021, his estate and Gary continued the mission to deliver winning and entertaining football. The franchise is stronger for all these contributions, a fact which is reflected in the interest currently being shown in the Alouettes’ future.”

​Cecchini was hired as Alouettes president in 2020, signing a three-year contract. But last December, Cecchini was informed by Spiegel’s estate that his deal wouldn’t be renewed.

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