Montreal businessman Clifford Starke withdraws interest in purchasing Alouettes

Clifford Starke has withdrawn his offer to purchase the Montreal Alouettes.

The Montreal businessman made the announcement Tuesday. Last month, Starke sent commissioner Randy Ambrosie an amended proposal to buy the frachise.

Then Starke further bolstered his bid by adding former Alouettes running back Eric Lapointe to his group as a strategic adviser with an expanding role. But Starke also stated his offer would only stand until Tuesday.

“My partners and I firmly still believe that we have created the ideal ownership structure, offer, executive team and strategy that would have ensured the best possible outcome for the Alouettes,” Starke said in a statement. “Currently there isn’t a competitive offer that would combine both a solid business understanding and a Canadian football related acumen, as my proposed offer.

“Our deadline for action from the CFL has expired, as to has the lifespan of our intent to purchase.”

Starke first announced his intention to buy the franchise in April. The 35-year-old is the chair of Hampstead Private Capital and has acted as a consultant, adviser and/or director to more than 15 publicly listed companies.

Ambrosie has said the CFL is negotiating exclusively with one potential ownership group. A league source has indicated that’s a partnership headed up by Montreal natives Peter and Jeffrey Lenkov, who were in Edmonton for the Alouettes’ season-opening 32-25 road loss to the Eskimos on June 14.

Peter Lenkov is a Hollywood producer/writer while Jeff Lenkov is a lawyer and NHL player agent. The Alouettes are now being run by the CFL, which took over ownership May 31 from American businessman Bob Wetenhall and his son, Andrew.

The Alouettes had reportedly lost $50 million since 1997 when Wetenhall purchased the franchise. That included $25 million the past three seasons and a whopping $12.5 million last year alone.

Lapointe led one of three groups that went public with their interest in purchasing the Alouettes from the CFL. Starke and Vincenzo Guzzo, the president and CEO of Cinemas Guzzo, were the others before Guzzo dropped out of the bidding.

Lapointe was a running back with the Alouettes from 2001-2006. The five-foot-11, 208-pound Montreal native starred collegiately at Mount Allison and after being named Canadian university football’s top rookie in 1995 claimed the Hec Crighton Trophy in 1996 and ‘98.

He was selected in the third round, No. 20 overall, of the 1999 CFL draft by Edmonton but joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats later that season after being released. Lapointe was traded to the Toronto Argonauts in 2000, then joined the Alouettes the following season.

Lapointe, 44, is currently a managing director with Stonegate Private Counsel in Montreal. His office assists high net-worth entrepreneurs with sustaining, growing and transitioning their wealth.

Starke and Brad Smith — a former CFL receiver and the son of longtime Alouettes player/president Larry Smith — grew up attending Montreal games at Molson Stadium. From 2000 to 2010, the Alouettes were a league powerhouse, appearing in eight Grey Cups, winning three.

But the franchise hasn’t been to the Grey Cup since winning it in 2010 and has missed the CFL playoffs the last four seasons.

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