SBD/16/Franchises

LEAFS DENY CHARGES OF LIMITING TV REVENUE TO HELP OWNER

     Maple Leafs President Cliff Fletcher responded to reports
that MLG Ltd. "passed" on as much as C$70M in added TV revenue,
thus enabling Owner Steve Stavro to purchase the company more
easily.  According to yesterday's FINANCIAL POST, Fletcher called
the claims "an unadulterated crock." The issue of TV revenue is
central to the case of the Ontario Attorney General and Office of
the Public Trustee, who have challenged Stavro's control of MLG.
According to court documents which surfaced in recent newspaper
accounts, the Leafs "did not pursue significant money by
reopening a clause in its broadcast contract with Molson
Breweries."  According to Fletcher, while there were legal
opinions that said the contracts could be reopened, there were as
many that said they couldn't.  Fletcher cited the fact the team
hired IMG's Barry Frank to negotiate the deal -- whom Fletcher
considers the best in the business -- and said, "For anyone to
suggest now that we didn't max out every nickel, I can assure you
we did."  Fletcher also denied the claim that they kept out
competition, namely Labatt.  Fletcher:  "I can tell you this
much, our alternatives were very limited" (Steve Simmons,
FINANCIAL POST, 2/15).
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