Published on June 16, 2009 7:10 PM by dbo.
Today globesports.com published a story stating David Braley, owner of the B.C. Lions, contributed half of the $2 million purchase price for the Toronto Argonauts to new owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon and continued to lend them money. Although all parties denied the existence of an ownership stake by Braley in the Argonauts, the CFL later acknowledged the loans in media statements, although they were not known to the league. To me, the story came off as shock journalism for sports. Sell some papers, create a stir, but don’t really address the issue and provide facts where they exist and questions where they don’t.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a serious business issue for the league, although not surprising that it occurred. There is an obvious conflict when an owner owns two franchises in the same sports league. However, Naylor and Sekeres fail to establish any ownership stake or influence of Braley on the Argonauts. They cite standing on the sidelines, reviewing the books and recommending a coaching candidate as possible evidence of Braley’s control of the Argos. They also fail to claim whether monies were paid back or are still outstanding. Their source stated Braley has continued to cover their operating losses and in exchange took half the profits from the 2007 Grey Cup in Toronto. Other than a single anonymous source, their are no corroborating facts to the specifics of these claims.
What I would like to see is reporting that states what they believe are the facts and asks questions about their truthfulness and what is unknown. How much money was loaned, when was it loaned and was it paid back? Are their current loans outstanding? Did Braley ever influence the Toronto owners in football operations like player signings? The biggest unasked question of all is was the 2004 Grey Cup handed to the Argonauts at the direction of Braley (Casey Printers was kept on the bench) to strengthen the Eastern Argos? As Braley is such a competitor I don’t believe that could have happened, but the question should be asked. The original article doesn’t even go into the reasons such an arrangement is improper, even if allowed by the rules, except to inference that it is bad. Many things could be interpreted from the article, including that the Argo owners are not financially capable of funding the club. Stephen Brunt tries to address the reasons this arrangement is bad, especially the secrecy, but focuses on a personality analysis of Braley, Sokolowski and Cynamon and the motivations for their actions.
In the end it appears the story is meant to shock and disparage the parties without digging deeper for any facts. Reveal the big secret, get the big splash and move on. In the end, CFL fans will still be CFL fans (it is the product on the field) and the haters will have another reason to list why the CFL is small potatoes (it is important to them that their leagues be properly run, or have the maximum value). Maybe the CFL will amend their rules. Without any desire to dig for some more facts and the truth to the story, it will slowly fade away, and today’s article will be known as the truth.