Monday, February 11

BuyTheLeafs.com: ...And a Saviour Approacheth

How about that last post, huh? There is almost nothing I love more than dedicating an entire HS/HS blog day to a picture of an array of Buffalonians recoiling in horror to the second and only northern New York performance of "Jason vs. Freddy On Ice". The show garnered overwhelmingly negative reviews save for save for cub reporter Clint "Shanky" Malarchuck, who called it "...awesome!..." and, "...a tour de force! They got it exactly right..!"

Like I said though, almost nothing. I really, really love the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the feeling I get from meeting you guys and using our collective powers of prose to, say, bitch slap the moustache right off Howard Berger makes this blog all the more rewarding.
Case in point: Jeremy over at BuyTheLeafs.com. Having never seen Jeremy, just from our conversation I can tell you two things about him: One, that he is clearly more handsome than Moose, and two, that he dreams big. And when I say big, I mean BIG. Like last Christmas, he wasn't wishing he'd wake up to find one Xbox 360 under the tree, he was wishing he'd wake up and find ten thousand.

Jeremy works at an investment firm and he has hatched a plan. A plan he's generously agreed to share with each and every one of us: He wants us, Leafs Nation, to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels into the back of Richard Peddie. Think I'm joking? Well take it outside fatso, because I would never joke about something so serious.
I spoke to Jeremy about Buy the Leafs, whose main goal is to ultimately make all of our Leafs coloured dreams come true.

He Score, He Shoot: So Jeremy, on your blog you describe yourself like most us do, as a "Leafaholic". Let's start by telling me what your personal history is with the Leafs.

Buy The Leafs: I've been a Leafaholic since as far back as I can remember. My doctor says the condition is hereditary. My grandfather is going to die having a heart attack watching the Leafs play. I'm going to name my first born, "Dougie".
My relationship with the Leafs is one of suffering. Need I say more than "The 80's"? Then of course ’93, when the Leafs would have won the Cup easily beating the Habs if it wasn't for Fraser. I remember that Borschevsky goal in game 7 against the Wings like it was yesterday. It's depressing; I don't remember what I ate for breakfast, yet I remember little Russians and Kingstonians from 15 years ago. Even more depressing, I actually spelt Borschevsky right without checking.

HS/HS: I actually think that makes you kind of a stud. But seriously, you should make sure you have a V-Fib unit around your grandfather at all times. I'm just saying. So what about us as Leafs fans makes us different from fans of other teams? Why are we so much better?

BTL: Haha. We're the best because no other fans would have put up with what we have and still love the team with all our hearts. We just keep coming back every year with a smile. It's very Canadian.

HS/HS: What is the basic idea for BuyTheLeafs.com?

BTL: To lead the revolution so the inmates can take over and run the asylum. You have to admit, it would be an improvement.

HS/HS: How hard is it to convince people of the seriousness of BuyTheLeafs?

BTL: It's easier to convince Hab fans that the Leafs will win the Cup this year. You know, I understand people being skeptical, I would be as well. It's real easy for anybody to put up a website these days... even Sens fans can do it. That's why all we are asking for is basically a name and email, which will be kept 100% confidential and destroyed if this fails.
We just need people to show some interest, either registering on our site, emailing us, joining our Facebook group or MySpace page. Just something to show us that there is enough interest so we can proceed to the next step of actually forming a company.

HS/HS: Jeremy, when I first looked at your site, the thing that struck me was that it was clear that you had a real business model. You hold up as an example two European soccer teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Those are sporting clubs with "members" rather than shareholders. They hold elections, where members vote, select their President and then relinquish control of the club to them. Would your plan with the Leafs be similar, or would shareholders have a say in major club decisions?

BTL: Well, the way I envision it at this point is, shareholders will vote for a board and a president that will hire a CEO who will be responsible for the day to day business operations.
Shareholders would also vote for any major club decisions. The issue is, what is a major decision the fans should vote for, and what is best left up to the board? Should hiring/firing a GM be a fan/shareholder vote? Or is that something the board and president would be responsible for and evaluated on?
There can be similarities with the way non-profit member clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona are run. However, from a financial stand point, they never had to come up with $1.8-billion initial capital to purchase the clubs. It would be next to impossible to put this together as a non-profit members club at this point.

HS/HS: There is a similar effort being made right now by fans of Liverpool FC in England, to buy the club from their American owners (incidentally, George Gillett of the Montreal Canadiens and Tom Hicks of the Dallas Stars). Have you been following that story?

BTL: I hadn't seen this, but that seems to be a trend right now. There's also a group in Miami trying to buy the NFL Dolphins. I heard something on the news yesterday about a group in Buffalo trying to purchase the Bills. There have been a couple other similar stories from around the world. Teams are a public trust, and I think fans are tired of paying money so others can get rich.

HS/HS: If the money was raised, who would handle the negotiations of the sale?

BTL: Lawyers. Lots of them. Unfortunately. On our behalf, the board of directors would be responsible for putting together a negotiating team including lawyers, accountants, etc.

HS/HS: The Leafs have major money, don't they? Exactly how much do they make every year?

BTL: Is the sky blue? The actual numbers are a closely guarded secret. However, according to leaked documents, the company made a profit of about $83-million in the last fiscal year (06-07 season). According to Forbes, from that $83-million, about $53-million was from the Leafs. I should also note though, as we have seen with many governments and companies (Enron, Nortel, and many more), accounting is an art, not a science.

HS/HS: For a project of this size, is it realistic to expect a Leafs fan to invest without regard for a return on their investment?

BTL: Well, your typical fan that might invest $1 000, at 10% ROI would receive $100 a year. The point is most fans would rather leave that money with the club to win. People investing larger amounts, will expect a return. This can be structured so there is a difference between fans and investors.

HS/HS: Just so you know dude, I have no idea what that meant, because I'm an idiot. But I DO know sales pitches. If you had to go in today and make a sales pitch to someone, would you approach them more as a fan or an investor?

BTL: Depends on how much money they have. For the smaller amounts, I would approach them as fans. For larger amounts, as investors.
Financially, there are a couple different options as to how this can be structured. We could borrow money or have split shares where people can invest and get a higher return but not have voting rights. This really all depends on how many fans show interest, and how much fan money can be raised, as opposed to investor money.

HS/HS: So how can people get involved?

BTL: They can register at BuyTheLeafs.com, email us for more info at info@BuyTheLeafs.com, or, join us at Facebook and Myspace, and hopefully help spread the word to their fellow Leaf Nation inmates-citizens.

HS/HS: Well Jeremy, you're clearly excellent. You're the embodiment of the phrase "Put your money where your mouth is", and you're encouraging every Leafs fan to do the same. In closing, let me ask you this: If, one day your dream came true, and you owned the Leafs, would you give up your shares if it meant they would win the Cup?

BTL: In a heartbeat. I'd give up my left arm. I'd even give up my first born, Dougie.

God, let's hope it comes to that.

2 comments:

EXACTAMUNDO said...

At this house Dougie, we don't put our elbows on the table.

Great post Greener.
ps. I joined the Facebook page

Norte said...

At this house Dougie, we don't put our elbows on the table.

Great post Greener.
ps. I joined the Facebook page