Former Montreal Alouettes president Larry Smith has a connection with Clifford Starke, one of the new prospective owners of the franchise.

“Well this is a young man that he and my son Brad became friends when they were at Lower Canada College and then they went on to go to school together at Queen’s University. I was lucky enough to coach with Peter Dalla Riva the LCC senior football team the year Brad was quarterback and Cliff was the running back, so we got to know each other pretty well,” Smith said on TSN 690 radio in Montreal.

“I’ve not heard too much from Cliff, but Brad and Cliff have maintained a relationship over time and Cliff has been very successful in his business ventures as an entrepreneur. He had talked to Brad about this a few months ago and felt badly about the demise of the club.”

Smith remembers Starke sitting with Brad and the family watching Alouettes games on TV. That was during some of the glory days when Robert Wetenhall was more hands-on with the Montreal franchise, including a Grey Cup championship in 2002. Starke, now 35, is the CEO of Hampstead Private Capital.

“He’s an entrepreneur and I guess like any other entrepreneur he got in at the early stages of the evolution of this new industry and so far has made quite a mark from what I hear. What I can tell you from a distance, Cliff has been very, very successful as a young businessman and has accumulated significant wealth,” Smith said.

“What’s critical in this situation is that he’s a Montrealer, he’s someone who cares about the club – he’s got it in his heart. The good news is here you have a Montrealer, a young man whose done very, very well in his life in a new industry and is very, very bright and sharp and astute and he’s stepping up to put something on the table that he wants to take a serious look at it. He’s a business man so he’s not going to put all his cards out too early, but hopefully they’ll be some evolution of the process so that we can save and protect the CFL in Montreal.”