Hey, big spenders

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Ted Hellard isn't buying any speculation that suggests the CFL's salary cap will not be enforced next year.

The rumour mill is claiming there's a possibility the cap could be delayed until 2008.

But the Calgary Stampeders owner - who was also a key figure in developing the salary management system this winter - can't see his fellow owners eliminating the current plan to live by the rules of a hard cap next season.

"There's a way to kill the salary cap - (if) six out of eight teams voted it out," admitted Hellard. "But six out of eight just voted it in (this winter). I'm not really sure why six out of eight would (now) vote it out.

"I don't see that happening."

Neither does Edmonton Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur.

The penalties for being over the cap next year have already been set. The only thing left to decide - according to Hellard - is to set the cap number for 2007.

In a trial run on the SMS this year - with no penalties for going over - every team was supposed to stick to a $3.8-million limit.

"I think (the number for next year) will go up, but I don't know by how much," said LeLacheur. "We're going to work (on setting that number) next week."

Hellard believes the 2007 cap limit will likely fall between $3.9 million and $4.1 million.

OVERSPENDING: Although the Eskimos tried to watch their bottom line this year - releasing Joe Montford before camp and cutting him again after only four games - the club will still be over the $3.8-million mark.

"I suspect we might be in the middle of the pack (of the league)," said LeLacheur.

Although he doesn't know what the final figure will be for the year, the Esks president knows the team won't be $700,000 over the cap like the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

GETTING SERIOUS: The next step in the search to find a new owner in Ottawa comes this week when the three interested parties submit detailed packages to the CFL.

"It's a pretty in-depth proposal that answers pretty much everything we would need to know from an operational and financial point of view," said Hellard, who chairs the franchise committee.

"We will look at the three and this will give us enough information to make some fairly intelligent decisions as to what level of participation we think we have.

"And if we feel we want to move on to the next stage we would move into some kind of personal interview process."

Hellard expects a decision on the future in Ottawa to be made before the Grey Cup.

But there's a possibility an expansion franchise could be granted in November - but not start until 2008, giving the new owner plenty of time to hit the ground running.

"There's logic that can tell you that it makes sense to start in 2007 and there is logic that makes sense to start in 2008," continued Hellard.

Golden Gate Capital, Frank D'Angelo and a U.S. consortium of nearly 10 investors are all vying for the franchise.


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