Sale opens can of worms

Lions owner David Braley now owns two teams in the CFL. (QMI Agency file)

Lions owner David Braley now owns two teams in the CFL. (QMI Agency file)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

David Braley is the proud owner of two Canadian Football League teams.

In the minds of many, though, it's the potential can of worms that Braley now possesses that stains the CFL.

And CFL commissioner Mark Cohon knows that perception is in the public eye.

After the deal for Braley to buy the Toronto Argonauts from David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski was announced on Tuesday night, Cohon went to great lengths to explain why the CFL is comfortable with Braleys simultaneous grip on the B.C. Lions and the Argos.

This was the best option for the future of the Argonauts and the health of the Canadian Football League, Cohon said. (The board) is unanimous in the belief we would much rather have an exemplary person with considerable financial resources and an undeniable love for our league sit atop two franchises than have any one of our franchises owned by someone of uncertain means or questionable character.

What about when the Argos and Lions pull off a trade with each other?

We understand there are those who will now view every interaction between the Lions and the Argos with extreme scrutiny, Cohon said.

I can assure them their vigilance will be nothing compared to the way I and my colleagues in the league office will monitor every transaction and every game involving these two teams...

But we are confident moving forward most of all because ... no one in todays CFL, and perhaps no one in the history of the CFL, has devoted more of his time, energy and resources to our league than Mr. Braley.

Still, it wont be enough for some fans, who littered message boards with sarcastic comments regarding possible trades and future games between the teams. The Argos and Lions meet in Toronto on July 23 and in Vancouver on Sept. 11.

Braley didnt rule out selling the Argos one day, but his first mandate is to improve the franchise as a whole.

Braley has been known to be a frugal owner but he tends to not meddle in the day-to-day business of the football operations.

He confirmed that Argos president Bob Nicholson, general manager Adam Rita and new head coach Jim Barker will be retained.

I believe strongly in the Argonauts brand and will work to turn the Double Blue into a winning team on the field and a leading franchise within the Canadian Football League, Braley said. It will take time and effort, but I am extremely confident that with the right people and plan in place, we will succeed on behalf of Argos fans.

Cynamon and Sokolowski rescued the Argos from bankruptcy in 2003, and were helped financially by Braley to do so. There were reports that Braley continued to help pay the bills in the ensuing years, but Cynamon and Sokolowski did not want to go forward with him as a partner. A search that took them to prospective partners such as TSN and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz turned out to be fruitless.

Neither Cynamon nor Sokolowski wanted to get rid of the Argos, but when they failed to get the Argos out of the Rogers Centre and into a smaller, more intimate stadium, they felt they had no choice. Finding no support when they went to board in search of revenue sharing also helped convince them they had to sell.

Braley is a former owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and once was the interim commissioner of the CFL. He is the owner of Orlick Industries Ltd., a leading auto parts manufacturer.


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