Is Watters next to leave?

Ottawa Renegades president and part-owner Brad Watters might no longer be with the team come summer...

Ottawa Renegades president and part-owner Brad Watters might no longer be with the team come summer time. (Ottawa Sun File Photo/Errol McGihon)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Piece by piece, Renegades are drifting away. Signs now point to part of the top being included in the next wave.

A 'For Sale' sign, actually, as team president and part-owner Brad Watters has put his luxurious Rockcliffe home on the market amid speculation he and his family are moving to Toronto.

There also exists a belief that Watters won't have to worry about a commute once the CFL season begins -- that he will no longer be at his post by that time.

Reached yesterday at league meetings in Winnipeg, Watters refused to comment, other than to say he is under contract. "It is not an issue at this point," he said.

Of course, Watters' future will unfold as will an ownership picture that remains as distorted as it's been since last season.

Majority shareholders Bill Smith and Randy Gillies have yet to work out a deal that would see one of them buy out the other. A split once seemed to favour Smith winding up with controlling interest in the team, but now it's unclear which way the odds are stacked.

Watters and his father Bill remain sided with Smith, while Gillies has minority owners Kevin Kimsa and Rick Baker in his corner. Kimsa, who has a 15% stake, has made it clear he wants out for some time.

Investors are being sought who are interested in either purchasing shares or the entire team.

"We're looking at all kinds of options, none of which I'm prepared to discuss right now," Gillies said from Toronto. "We want to get things resolved as soon as possible, but we are finding out these things take a lot of time."

Gillies was "not prepared to discuss" many of a Sun reporter's questions yesterday although, when asked if he thought he would still be involved in the ownership by the time the season starts, he said: "Yeah ... that's as likely as any other (scenario) at this point.

"There will be some change of some type (before June), but I wouldn't speculate on what it will be," he added.

All the uncertainty is at least in the back of the minds of free-agent players deciding on where to sign. Wide receiver Chris Brazzell said so when he became the newest Tiger-Cat this week, although he also admitted appreciating the instant interest from Hamilton while the Renegades only called after they were jilted by Ed Hervey.

KEY LOSSES

Since the market opened Feb. 16, the Renegades have lost key Canadian starters they wanted to keep -- linebacker Kelly Wiltshire (Edmonton), and offensive linemen Alexandre Gauthier (Calgary) and, it now appears, Mike Abou-Mechrek (Winnipeg) -- as well as an import defensive back Anthony Malbrough (Calgary) they considered to be one of the league's best.

Money was a factor in all of their decisions, but those players were also very much aware of the Renegades' ownership questions as they lived through them last season.

"I guess if you read what's in the press, it's a bit of an issue," said Gillies. "But at the end of the day, there will be football in Ottawa next season and we think we'll have a very good team. The ownership of a team changes, it's a pretty normal thing. I would hope players and agents understand that's part of the business.

"There's a tendency to get caught up in the negatives, but the rebirth of football in Ottawa is a good thing," added Gillies. "It's not without its challenges, but I think overall, people are happy to have football back and I don't see that changing.

"When I talk to (coach/GM) Joe (Paopao), he is positive and confident about our team. Sure, we've lost a few guys, but we've signed some new guys and we're excited about that."


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