Alouettes’ president Mario Cecchini says Spiegel estate turned down interest from local ownership groups, not actively looking to sell the team

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

New ownership appeared to be an inevitability for the Montreal Alouettes when minority owner Gary Stern stepped away from team operations last week, but president Mario Cecchini says there are no active attempts to sell the franchise.

A majority stake in the Alouettes — 75 percent — is currently controlled by the estate of the late Sid Spiegel. Estates are usually quick to part with sports franchises but Cecchini was emphatic that a hunt for a new owner had not been initiated.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” he told TSN 690’s Melnick in the Afternoon on Thursday.

“The good news is that three or four groups actually called me, Quebec-based, so there is interest. If there’s one good thing, it’s that but when I mentioned it to the gentleman who manages the estate, they basically said, ‘Thank you, tell them I won’t return the call.’ So that was quite clear.”

The Alouettes were purchased in January of 2020 by Spiegel and his son-in-law and business partner Stern 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 had been the team’s public face from the beginning of the arrangement but published an open letter last week 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 will carry on with “business as usual” despite the recent shake-up.

Fans who have long clamoured for local ownership may be disappointed that Quebec-based investors have been turned aside but the lack of interest in an immediate sale seems to indicate that the estate is focused on stability with one of its most valuable assets.

“At the end of the day, the strangest thing is that there is no change. And what happened last week happens about every year or so with one or two teams where they just, between the different parts of ownership, decide to change governors or decide to change who the person will report to, a person like me,” Cecchini emphasized.

“That’s what happened last week, but Gary decided to thank the fans and made it public with a letter, and so that made it a little bit bigger than it actually is because, in effect, there’s no change. The ownership structure doesn’t change and I can tell you today that the majority ownership has asked me to be the lead governor, so that makes it even more simpler as far as the operations are concerned.”

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