Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
BC Lions owner David Braley is looking to sell the franchise.
On Tuesday, in an interview with TSN 1040, Lions president Rick LeLacheur provided details about the longtime Lions owner’s desire to finally sell the team he has been looking to move for nearly a decade.
“At the beginning of the year David Braley and I had great conversation, that concluded that he was ready to sell the team,” LeLacheur told radio hosts Matt Sekeres and Blake Price. “He’d had health problems in and out, he’s getting up there in age, but he loves the CFL, he loves the Lions. He’s been a great owner. I don’t think there’d be a CFL today if it weren’t for David Braley.”
The fact that Braley is looking to sell isn’t exactly new news, of course. Braley, who saved the franchise from extinction in 1997 and has run the team ever since, has been looking for a buyer for years.
“The process to sell” the Lions was reportedly underway in 2015, with 19 groups reportedly interested in buying the team.
In 2017, it was reported that Braley expected to have a deal in place within a couple of months – having narrowed down his list of potential buyers to a few groups.
Don’t believe everything you read, I guess.
“I don’t want to be sitting here at 95, shaking, owning the franchise,” Braley said in a rare interview two years ago.
So there’s a desire to sell, though Braley wants to make sure the team falls into the right hands.
“It’s tremendously important to him that the new owner or owners be in a position that they’re able to carry on the Lions for many years to come,” LeLacheur said.
LeLacheur says he’s been tasked with trying to find a buyer, adding that he has spoken to numerous parties. Local ownership is likely preferred, though LeLacheur says he’s also spoken to some out-of-town prospects as well. He’s even introduced CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie to a few.
Perhaps that includes Mark Woodall and Moray Keith, local prospective investors who have a plan to raise $20 million by selling shares, spending $8-10 million to buy the franchise and using the rest to run the team.
At one time, Braley had been believed to be looking for $35 million for the team, with prospective buyers – which reportedly included a group led by Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and former Saskatchewan Roughrider David Sidoo – only willing to pay in the neighbourhood of $20 million.
Braley wouldn’t exactly be selling high at this point in time. With just one win in nine games, the Lions own the worst record in the CFL. They’re hurting at the gate as well, averaging 18,678 fans per game at BC Place – well below the 28,011 average they drew just five years ago.
“I deal under the radar,” LeLacheur said. “I just don’t believe you do a business deal in public or through the media. I’d talked to a lot of different individuals, groups, including Mark (Woodall).”
The sale of the Montreal Alouettes to the CFL in May, coupled with health issues for Braley, delayed matters according to LeLacheur, though a deal could be reached following the season.
When asked for a timeline LeLacheur said “sooner the better,” and “hopefully the offseason.”
But we’ve heard that before.