Renegade Asper-ations?

According to CFL insiders, CanWest Global Communications executive VP David Asper, a former...

According to CFL insiders, CanWest Global Communications executive VP David Asper, a former chairman of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, has expressed an interest in purchasing the Ottawa Renegades. (Ottawa Sun/Brian Donogh)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

One of Canada's most prominent families has recently looked at buying the Renegades, the Sun has learned.

Sources say media mogul David Asper has quietly expressed interest in the four-year-old CFL franchise being shopped around by an ownership group fed up with losing money.

It's not known whether Asper -- the executive VP of his family-owned CanWest Global Communications -- is still investigating the business opportunity. But it's believed he has made his interest known to CFL commissioner Tom Wright.

WATTERS ABOUT TO EXIT?

Meanwhile, insiders also insist Renegades president Brad Watters will leave the organization as early as the end of this month. Watters, who helped orchestrate the return of pro football to Ottawa and remains a minority shareholder in the team, recently put his Rockliffe house up for sale and admitted he was moving back to Toronto, but also said that he would continue on as president and commute to work.

Watters is currently in Florida on a family vacation and could not be reached for comment.

The future of the Renegades' ownership has been in question since the final weeks of the 2004 season, as minority shareholder Kevin Kimsa has made it clear he wants out and co-majority owners Bill Smith and Randy Gillies have fruitlessly tried to finalize a split.

Presently, it's looking like both will go forward -- the message coming from inside, in fact, is that negotiations on a new structure are progressing smoothly -- despite the fact either would be more than willing to jump ship for the right price.

Asper, meanwhile, could surely handle any financial requirements.

He and his brother Leonard are the sons of the late Izzy Asper, who started the vast communications empire 30 years ago. Today, CanWest owns 11 major daily newspapers in Canada, almost twice that number of TV stations and some radio stations.

David Asper also has a CFL background that intertwines with the birth of the Renegades.

NAMED IN SUIT

A past chairman of the Blue Bombers, his term coincided with the welcoming of Ottawa back into the fold. It also included some of the lower moments in recent CFL history.

Asper was named in a statement of claim filed by former commissioner Michael Lysko, who tried to sue the CFL for wrongful dismissal, breach of contract and various other civil actions.

Asper and Bombers president Lyle Bauer were also accused of defaming Lysko when they suggested, in March 2002, that the Bombers' share of 2001 CFL revenue was lower than expected.

The claim was later dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court.

WHAT ABOUT BOMBERS?

Meanwhile, another league source doubts Asper's interests in the Renegades, saying it is "one of the furthest things from the truth," adding that if the Winnipeg family was looking at purchasing a franchise, it would be the Bombers.

Asked if there were any new developments in the Renegades ownership situation, the source added: "At the moment, things are rather quiet."


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