Money group splinters

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

A local group working to purchase the Calgary Stampeders has split in two.

According to a source, Dave Sapunjis and his investors are no longer involved with the Ted Hellard group that is negotiating to buy the CFL franchise from owner Michael Feterik.

Although it isn't clear why the division occurred, one theory circulating suggests there was a disagreement regarding the group's offer and how to deal with existing Stampeders staff and their contracts should a sale be completed.

It's expected the Hellard group will now have to either recruit new investors or increase their own financial involvement to reach an agreement with Feterik.

It isn't clear whether the Sapunjis group will continue pursuing a deal.

The split could delay efforts to return the franchise into local hands while setting back the rebuilding efforts of the new owners, should a sale be finalized.

Feterik reportedly wants more than $6 million Cdn for the franchise he bought three years ago from Sig Gutsche.

Hellard's group is expected to meet again with Feterik, a California businessman, when the owner returns to Calgary next month.

CFL insiders have said a change in Stampeders ownership should ideally take place before the end of December. That time frame would enable the new group to put its own management in place and begin the process of hiring coaches and front-office staff.

Teams typically begin hiring coaches in December or January and there could be several changes throughout the league, creating fierce competition for staff.

There's already an opening for a head coach in Edmonton after Tom Higgins' resignation two weeks ago, while the entire staff in Ottawa could be released after a 5-13 season in 2004.

Saskatchewan head coach Danny Barrett is also without a contract for next season.

Sapunjis and Hellard were not available for comment yesterday.


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