Gillett, Saputo try to bring MLS team to Montreal
Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett has teamed up with the Montreal Impact in a bid for a Major League Soccer franchise, Impact president Joey Saputo said Wednesday.
"I can confirm that we are in discussions with Gillett Entertainment Group as well as with Major League Soccer to bring an MLS franchise to Montreal," Saputo said in a statement.
"However, I am currently in no position to share any more details, since doing so would jeopardize the process."
Montreal La Presse reported that they hope to call the team Montreal FC and begin play in the 2009 season.
The Impact currently play in the United Soccer League First Division — one division below MLS.
The two would split the $30-million franchise fee as well as a $12-million expansion of Saputo Stadium from 13,000 to 20,000 seats, the report said.
The privately financed facility near Olympic Stadium in the city's east end is set to open this season.
The report said Gillett's company and Saputo informed MLS of their interest in a letter on March 12.
Gillett became majority owner of the Canadiens in 2001. In 2007, he teamed with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks to purchase English soccer giant Liverpool and a few months later became majority owner of the Gillett-Evernham NASCAR team.