Dual ownership not an option

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Mark Cohon wants to protect the integrity of the Canadian Football League.

The commissioner would do well to ensure that David Braley doesn't one day wake up with two CFL teams on his hands.

Nothing against Braley, who owns the B.C. Lions and is said to be interested in buying the Toronto Argonauts from David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

Since 1997, when Braley took over the Lions, the club has not missed the playoffs, won two Grey Cups and last year passed the 300,000 mark in attendance for the first time in 17 years.

Braley commands respect across the league and could have the backing of the majority of owners if he decided to hang on to the Lions while at the same time taking over in Toronto.

When Braley says he will always do what he can to strengthen the league, as he did in a statement on Wednesday, it's not just words on a page.

COVETS THE ARGOS

And there are whispers that Braley has no interest in simultaneously owning two CFL franchises, but at the same time, would love nothing more than to become the majority owner in Toronto.

But the fact that nothing in the CFL's constitution that would stop him from owning two teams, save for approval from the board of governors, is troubling. The optics wouldn't help a league that has had image problems in the past.

"My commitment always is to the integrity of our game," Cohon said yesterday. "That's the lens I would look at all this through."

Otherwise, Cohon did not want to comment on speculation regarding what Cynamon and Sokolowski might decide to do with the Argos.

The pair said in a release two days ago that they are exploring their options, which some interpret as a declaration of their intent to sell. Others figure that if the Argos manage to win a couple of their four remaining games, Cynamon and Sokolowski might decide to keep the team.

That an Argos sale is being discussed in any regard has left some Argos fans disillusioned with the idea that Cynamon and Sokolowski would bail on a losing outfit.

Man people forget that the two reportedly were rebuffed in their quest, along with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, by the league's board to get revenue sharing slanted to southern Ontario.

Not everyone would see the CFL in a mocking light if Braley or someone else had two clubs on payroll. Though the question of whether it would upset the competitive balance would be asked immediately, not all players would see it that way.

"As soon as (the Braley rumours) caught wind around here, there was some joking about that," Argos tackle and former Lion Rob Murphy said of the reaction in the locker room. "And would it be weird to have him owning two teams? Absolutely.

"But David Braley is good for the CFL. I don't care as long as there is support for the league, and if it has to come from an owner with two teams, then that's what happens."

Braley has said the Lions are not for sale, but that could change if Cynamon and Sokolowski decide to pull up stakes.

TURN TEAM AROUND

A resident of Burlington, Braley undoubtedly would put his heart and his financial resources into bringing a level of respect back to an Argos club that is 7-25 since the start of the 2008 season, has had three coaches in that span and is on the way to finishing out of the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 2000 and 2001.

But he shouldn't be allowed to do it if he still owns the Lions.

That would not be right.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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