Imagine just for a minute, that if Randy Lerner had been unable to complete his purchase of the Cleveland Browns and was secretly loaned millions by Jerry Jones, that would be a slight conflict of interest, right?  There’s a similar credibility problem faced Tuesday by the Canadian Football League report the Globe & Mail’s David Naylor and Matthew Sekeres. 

David Braley, owner of the B.C. Lions, secretly put up half of the $2-million franchise fee when David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski purchased the Toronto Argonauts out of bankruptcy in the fall of 2003, and continued to lend money to the CFL club, The Globe and Mail has learned.

His role in brokering the Argos deal occurred without the knowledge of then-CFL commissioner Tom Wright, and the role Braley has since played is unknown to current commissioner Mark Cohon.

The Globe was told Braley has covered half the Toronto club™s annual operating losses. On the flip side, he pocketed half the profits from the 2007 Grey Cup game staged at the Rogers Centre.

When asked yesterday if Braley had an ownership interest in the Argos, Sokolowski vehemently denied it.

œAbsolutely not, David Cynamon and myself are the owners, he said. œThere are no formal financial records whatsoever in terms of him being an owner.

When asked whether there were any financial arrangements between the Argos and Braley, Sokolowski replied: œ[Braley] is not an owner. He has never been an owner. It™s a private company. That™s it. 

Naylor and Sekeres continue the article with claims Braley has access to the Argos books and has done a bit of head-hunting for the team. Braley, for his part, denies any interference in football matters, and describes his actions towards Toronto as a straight  loan and nothing more.  Even if you’re to believe Braley only has the CFL’s best interests at heart, however, one franchise being so financial dependent on another at the very least has the appearance of a competitive disadvantage for Toronto.