Chris Jones optimistic about potential new ownership for Edmonton Elks

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

Chris Jones isn’t worried about the potential sale of the Edmonton Elks becoming a distraction for his players and is looking on the bright side, focusing on what new ownership could potentially do to benefit the club.

“We just control what we can control. I mean, bringing in new ownership, that can be a positive thing and if you look at the other two clubs that have recently brought in new ownership, they’ve really spawned some really good times,” he said from the CFL Combine in Winnipeg.

“Montreal’s played well and of course B.C.’s played really good for the last couple of years, lots of excitement around their program. Again, all we can worry about is trying to do as good a job as we can do.”

The Lions have thrived under the ownership of Amar Doman, who purchased the team from David Braley’s estate during the summer of 2021. The club has won home playoff games in both of the last two years while regular season attendance has grown by 30 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

Montreal has also achieved success since local billionaire Pierre Karl Péladeau purchased the team from the CFL in March 2023 shortly after Gary Stern ceded ownership. Attendance held flat from 2022 to 2023 despite the loss of a number of marquee players and the team made a surprise postseason run, defeating the heavily-favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup.

Edmonton recently confirmed that Park Lane, the league’s investment banking partner, is working with the special committee formed last fall to review the club’s ownership situation. The Elks have always been publicly owned but with financial losses mounting over the past few years, the club will need an injection of capital sometime over the next two years barring an unforeseen turnaround.

None of the club’s potential suitors have been publicly identified, though the team has reportedly signed over a dozen non-disclosure agreements with potential owners.

Jones has been Edmonton’s head coach and general manager for the past two seasons, posting back-to-back 4-14 regular season records to finish fifth in the West Division. He’s indicated that he’s not worried about his job security and remains focused on returning the team to its former glory on the field.

“I don’t worry about that — all I can do is the work that I put in. I assure you that nobody’s working harder,” said Jones. “Our results have not been what we envisioned at this juncture, but for me to get up in the morning and tell you that I’m worried about my job security would be inaccurate.

“All I’m doing is doing my job and doing what I’ve always done. I’ve got a great guy riding with me — (assistant GM) Geroy (Simon) does a great job. The only thing unfortunate for him is he’s two hours behind me and I call him early in the morning and he’s not really a morning person. But we’re just doing our job and trying to enjoy the times until we can start getting it flipped around because when we get it flipped around, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

Jones also confirmed that Steven McAdoo, who was moved from offensive coordinator to an advisory role as part of a demotion last season, is now working as a regional scout based in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The Elks will open their 2024 regular season by hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, June 8.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.