Renegades ready to sale away?

Renegades head coach Joe Paopao and GM Eric Tillman celebrate following a win last August against...

Renegades head coach Joe Paopao and GM Eric Tillman celebrate following a win last August against the Montreal Alouettes. (F. Scott Grant / IMAGE Communications)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

The Renegades appear to have a little more on their plate than subpar attendance figures, a losing record and a bit of front-office confusion. Seems they may also have an ownership issue.

Insiders say the team has lost at least $4 million in its first two years and that part-owner Kevin Kimsa -- who has been conspicuous by his absence from Frank Clair Stadium this season -- is eager to remove himself from the picture.

Kimsa, a Toronto millionaire who has an approximate 15% share of the club, is one of the team's original owners along with Brad and Bill Watters, Rick Baker and majority shareholders Randy Gillies and Bill Smith.

Brad Watters, who also serves as team president and ownership spokesman, refused comment on the Renegades' finances or hierarchy, but did say "ownership is committed" to the long-term future and putting a strong product on the field.

He also acknowledged that the Nov. 21 Grey Cup game will be a "cash cow" for the Renegades, just as it is for all teams which host the event.

Meanwhile, the 5-8 Renegades prepared for Sunday's key game in Saskatchewan around a specially called press conferences for coach Joe Paopao and GM Eric Tillman. Both denied a shifting of the guard -- despite sources saying that Paopao has moved ahead of Tillman on the corporate ladder -- and insisted their roles are virtually the same as they were when they signed up three years ago.

Paopao, who became director of football operations last March, said his title was expanded to allow him "signing" authority when Tillman was away on scouting trips.

"Eric is the GM," said Paopao. "He handles the administrative duties and brings in the talent, along with (director of player personnel) Chris McRobbie. We've always made decisions collectively, and we're still going through the same process."

Tillman echoed the remarks, and maintained that stories to the contrary are simply part of the territory when a team struggles.

But players are fully aware problems exist. They know of cutbacks made since John Lisowski was hired as CEO to improve the bottom line, and they are cognizant of the muttering and distractions clampdowns have created.

"It has affected the team, want it to or not," said veteran linebacker/safety Kelly Wiltshire. "It has affected guys directly and indirectly.

"It's always better when you can work in a peaceful environment, and it hasn't been peaceful. Guys know that."

Another team leader, offensive tackle Chris Burns, says the players have to remember they can only control what happens in the locker room and on the field.

"We've got enough to worry about in winning games and making the playoffs," he said. "If guys are worried about (front-office issues) they are not worried about making plays ... and they are worried about the wrong stuff."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com 


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