The B.C. Lions continue to look for potential buyers of the franchise.
Current president Rick LeLacheur has been the front man as owner David Braley tries to find an ideal group to sell the team.
“If the deal’s right. David’s not going to give it away and I wouldn’t blame him he’s put a lot of money into this club particularly the last five years. But he knows it’s time,” LeLacheur told TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver.
“Him and I were talking this morning about it and I was updating him on a couple of groups that I’ve been talking to the last few days. The biggest thing is David knows it’s time to sell, but his main view of selling to somebody is that he wants to make sure it’s somebody that can ensure the Lions stay in the Lower Mainland for a long time to come.”
The 78-year-old Braley bought the Lions in 1997 and stood behind the franchise through the ups and downs. B.C. finished 5-13 last place in the West Division in 2019. After the season, general manager Ed Hervey let DeVone Claybrooks go and hired Rick Campbell as head coach.
“At first, I had hoped that we could get it done by the end of the year, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. But maybe before the season, I just don’t know — it’s going to happen when it happens,” LeLacheur said.
“There’s still a number of groups that are interested, there’s a couple of various companies or individuals that have said no, but there’s probably five or six that we’re still in active discussions with.”
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has been included in the process. Braley and the league want the new owners to keep the team in B.C. and run it successfully. The Burlington, Ontario resident has owned the Lions for 23 years. During Braley’s time as owner, B.C. has won three Grey Cups in 2000, 2006 and 2011.
“We’re still in discussions with a number of various groups. Nothing’s come to the top yet, sometimes these things take longer than you want it to but we’re still in discussions. We’ll see what happens,” LeLacheur said.
“We know what the brand of the Lions are, I believe we have expenses under control and we know that we’ve got to increase our revenues, that’s the whole thing that’s going on. We have to increase tickets sales and sponsorship, it’s really as simple as that. Easier to say than to do, but that’s what it’s all about.”
Braley was CFL commissioner for one season in 2002, served as the chair of the league’s board of directors and inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He knows the league well, but LeLacheur doesn’t believe Braley needs to see what the Montreal Alouettes are sold for before selling the Lions.
“No, not at all. Two different components, two different businesses and two different expenses and revenues,” LeLacheur said.
“It’s different so I’ve never looked and I don’t think David has ever considered holding off until the Montreal deal’s done. We’ve actually never talked about matching this deal to the Montreal deal at all.”