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Again, the CFL has an ownership issue with the Montreal Alouettes to resolve.
Minority owner Gary Stern announced Monday that he is stepping down from the club’s day-to-day operations and his position on the CFL board of directors.
“Today I am forced to share my current reality with you; I can no longer be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Montreal Alouettes,” Stern wrote in an open letter to Alouettes fans. “This was a very difficult decision for me and my family, but it is a final decision.
“I love this squad. I love Montreal and our fans. As a lifelong sports fan, my role with the Alouettes was a dream come true. I loved every minute of it.”
Neither the CFL nor Alouettes immediately commented on Stern’s letter.
Stern and his business partner/father-in-law Sid Spiegel bought the Alouettes from the CFL in January 2020, but Spiegel never saw the franchise play.
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The CFL canceled the ’20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Spiegel passed away in July 2020. His age was not disclosed, but Spiegel was listed as 89 when he and Stern bought the Alouettes.
“My wife Julie and I still mourn the loss, just over a year ago, of her father Sid Spiegel, who was my lifelong partner in business and in our shared dream of owning the Alouettes,” Stern wrote. “He was also my closest partner in life.
“His death put the great plans we had for the Alouettes on hold. We were ready and wanted to invest long term in the future of the Alouettes. As COVID-19 canceled the CFL game, Sid, who the 75 percent majority shareholder, unfortunately, never had the chance to see his team play. I will always regret that.”
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Stern also served as CEO of the Alouettes, adding that his 25 percent ownership stake in the team “remains.”
“Today, decisions regarding team funding and operations rest with Sid’s estate,” Stern wrote. “The close partnership that Sid and I had, including our shared love of sports and our ability to grow our team as we have invested for decades and grown our other joint businesses, no longer exists.
“I wish nothing but the best for our team, our fans and our community. I remain one of the biggest fans of the Alouettes and the CFL. But I will be cheering from the sidelines as I return to my civilian role and step back. Thank you to everyone in Montreal.
“I will always cherish the memories we made.”
American businessman Robert Wetenhall owned the Alouettes from 1997 to 2018 before the CFL took over the franchise while it was looking for new ownership.
For much of Wetenhall’s tenure, the Alouettes were a CFL powerhouse.
From 1999 to 2012, they topped the East Division 10 times and advanced to the Gray Cup eight times, winning three. But Montreal’s last Gray Cup win under Wetenhall’s ownership was in 2010, and the franchise missed the CFL playoffs in the final four years of his tenure, setting an overall record of 21-51 during that period.
And there were reports that the Alouettes lost $12 million in Wetenhall’s final season as an owner.
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Wetenhall passed away in September 2021. He was 86.
Wetenhall and Stern were polar opposites as owners. While Wetenhall chose to stay behind the scenes, Stern took to social media to actively become the face of the franchise, even going so far as to boldly predict wins for his team.
The ’22 season was a rollercoaster for Montreal (4-6), which is second in the East Division. The team fired head coach Khari Jones after the season opened 1-3, with GM Danny Maciocia taking over as coach on an interim basis.
Montreal remains the only CFL team to have defeated the Gray Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season. But last week the club indefinitely suspended fullback Christophe Normand on two charges of baiting a child under the age of 18, including one charge of luring a child under the age of 16, or who the accused thought he was. was under 16 at the time of the violation.
Montreal will host the Ottawa Redblacks (2-8) on Friday night. On August 20, the Alouettes drew 21,014 fans to Molson Stadium for their come-from-behind 29-28 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
© 2022 The Canadian Press