Alouettes’ president Mario Cecchini addresses Gary Stern’s departure, says he’s unaware if team will be sold

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

Montreal Alouettes’ president Mario Cecchini addressed the sudden departure of minority owner Gary Stern on Monday, indicating that he will now be reporting to the estate of late majority owner Sid Spiegel.

“Gary Stern has decided to step down from daily duties of being in contact with me and the team as far as operations is concerned. One thing that people need to understand is that the ownership structure of the Alouettes remains the same: it is 75 percent owned by what now is called the estate of Sid Spiegel and 25 percent by Gary Stern,” Cecchini told the media in Montreal.

“What effectively happened this morning is that the estate and Gary I guess jointly decided that I would now report on a daily basis to the 75 percent part of the ownership and not the 25 percent anymore.”

Stern purchased the Als in January of 2020 with his father-in-law and business partner Sid Spiegel via the corporate entity S and S Sportsco. Spiegel passed away in July 2021, two weeks before the club was scheduled to open the 2021 season and without ever having seen the team he owned play a game.

Stern published an open letter on Monday morning revealing that he had stepped away from the team and resigned from the CFL’s board of governors, though his 25 percent ownership of the Alouettes would remain. League commissioner Randy Ambrosie indicated via Twitter that he has been in touch with representatives from Spiegel’s estate and they have assured him that the club may carry on with “business as usual” despite the recent shake-up.

“They will probably name someone who will be my daily contact with them moving forward and then we’ll see everything that’s gonna evolve from that,” said Cecchini. “I’ve not had a long conversation with them, just a quick one this morning, and we will have a longer meeting tomorrow afternoon with two persons representing the estate of Mr. Spiegel.”

Cecchini told the French-language media that Stern struggled with the team having little to no income during the COVID-19 pandemic, but reiterated that he remained excited about rebuilding the club’s success on and off the field. The team recently drew its largest crowd in a number of years, hosting 21,024 fans for their 29-28 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

TSN’s Dave Naylor reported that the team is expected to be sold, likening the situation to that of David Braley’s passing in October 2020 while he still owned the B.C. Lions.

Cecchini said no conversations regarding a possible ownership change have taken place, though he acknowledged the rumours suggesting the team will be sold. He also indicated that Quebec-based investors have previously approached him regarding the possibility of becoming involved with the team as part of Stern’s initial plan to welcome local minority stakeholders.

Montreal currently sits second in the East Division with a 4-6 record and will host the Ottawa Redblacks (2-8) on Friday evening with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. EDT.