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Old 22nd June 2009, 10:29   #1
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Default Liverpool owner Gillett to sell Montreal Canadiens

Liverpool owner Gillett to sell Montreal Canadiens

• Gillett owned 80 percent of Canadiens
• Cost of the deal yet to be revealed

*, Sunday 21 June 2009 13.06 BST

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett is poised to sell NHL team Montreal Canadiens back to the Molson brewing family.

Gillett and Geoff Molson issued a joint statement yesterday saying they have an agreement in principle for three Molson brothers to purchase the club.

The deal needs approval from the NHL's board of governors, which they expect to occur by late August. A team spokesman said no time frame has been set for the announcement. The two sides did not reveal the sale price or any other details.

Gillett owned 80.1 percent of the team, its arena and its event promotion company. Brothers Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson, whose family first bought into the Canadiens in the 1950s, were up against a handful of bidders for the team, including Quebecor Media.

Gillett said he was "pleased to return the ownership of the Canadiens to the Molson family, a family that has been associated with the club for over three generations and committed to the Montreal community for seven generations over a 223-year period."

Gillett purchased his majority share in the team in 2001 for $275m. The remaining 19.9 percent remains with the Molson Coors company. Geoff Molson is on the team's board of directors, but he withdrew from its activities during the sale process.

Gillett has built the Canadiens into one of the NHL's most profitable clubs. He is also co-owner of Liverpool with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks.

"I am fully confident that the Molson brothers, who have been a great part of the heritage of the club, will ensure the preservation and development of this great sports institution," Gillett said.

"This is a very exciting time for our family," Geoff Molson said in the statement.

Provincial finance minister Raymond Bachand has made a $100m loan available to any new owners, as long as they're from Quebec.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said ownership by the Molson family will be good for the team's fans. "To the extent that they've been able to find people who are obviously passionate about the game and structure a transaction that makes sense for everybody, that's a real plus for the franchise and the fans in Montreal," he said.
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