Pierre Karl Péladeau could end up as the Alouettes’ new owner, though the sports channel he owns wouldn’t be able to broadcast its games.
Not only will the Alouettes survive, it also appears likely the CFL team will finally be locally owned.
Numerous sources have told the Montreal Gazette the league is negotiating exclusively with Quebecor Inc., meaning Montreal businessman, billionaire and former politician Pierre Karl Péladeau could soon be the team’s owner.
Péladeau, 61, is the president and chief executive officer of Quebecor and former leader of the Parti Québécois. He has a reported net worth of US$1.9 billion.
Quebecor has a sports and entertainment division that includes the Videotron Centre in Quebec City along with the Quebec Remparts and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada junior hockey teams. The group tried and failed to get a National Hockey League expansion franchise in Quebec City in 2015.
The CFL announced on Feb. 14 it was taking control of the Als from the late Sid Spiegel and Gary Stern. The Ontario-based steel magnates purchased the team from the league in January 2020; the league having assumed control of the franchise the previous year from the late Robert Wetenhall and his son Andrew. Robert Wetenhall, a New York-based businessman, assumed control of the franchise in 1997.
The CFL cancelled its 2020 season due to COVID-19. Spiegel, the Als’ majority owner (75 per cent), died before the start of the 2021 season never having seen the Als play.
While the sale of the team to Quebecor is far from final, it’s believed the CFL’s investment banking partner, Park Lane — a leading sports-focused advisory firm — is negotiating exclusively with Péladeau’s company. The league also announced last month it was reinstating Mario Cecchini as the Als’ president on an interim basis.
Reached by the Montreal Gazette Thursday night, Cecchini declined comment.
Péladeau’s interest in the Als, nonetheless, is perplexing.
Quebecor’s multi-platform business segment includes the operations of Le Journal de Montréal, Le Journal de Québec and the TVA Group, which includes TVA Sports. While the latter televises NHL games, it has no access to CFL contests, meaning Péladeau would have no broadcast platform to promote his team.
In 2013, the CFL along with TSN and RDS agreed to a five-year broadcast agreement that started the following season. That deal, originally worth a reported $43 million annually, was extended in 2015 and again in 2019, when the two agreed to a six-year contract extension reportedly worth $50 million.
It’s believed the CFL, as early as next week, will announce its exclusivity with Quebecor, if not the final sale. Whether Cecchini will be retained as president by Péladeau remains to be determined.
The Als (9-9) finished second in the East Division last season and advanced to the division final under general manager and interim head coach Danny Maciocia. It has since hired Jason Maas as the new head coach. However, due to the instability of ownership, starting quarterback Trevor Harris and leading receiver Eugene Lewis were lost in free agency, signing with Saskatchewan and Edmonton, respectively.
Lewis was the division finalist last season as the most outstanding player. Cody Fajardo, signed as a free agent from the Roughriders, is expected to be Montreal’s starting QB.
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