Buyer has own goal

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Bernie Glieberman will be sitting behind the wheel -- not in a passenger's seat -- if his attempt at buying into the Renegades is successful.

Sources have confirmed the Detroit millionaire is negotiating to buy controlling shares of the team, with Bill Smith almost certain to be his primary partner.

Unknown is the specific shakedown of the future ownership structure and what will become of team governor Randy Gillies, who, like Smith, currently has a majority 30% stake of the Renegades.

Gillies, who was away in the U.S. on a golf trip, has not returned calls in a week, although he has participated in teleconference meetings with his fellow Renegades shareholders during that time.

Exactly what it would cost Glieberman to buy the 51% he is bidding for is also unclear. Yesterday, the Sun learned that two other separate groups have also shown interest in buying the team outright. Both were told the price would be in excess of $4.5 million and both promptly withdrew from further conversations.

It's believed the Renegades have lost approximately $7 million in their first three years, including almost $2 million in 2004. They recouped the latter in staging a successful Grey Cup that brought in between a reported $2-3 million.

Financially, prospects for the upcoming season are looking dim. Season-ticket sales are moving at a slow pace and corporate sponsorship is also down. While such off-season drop-offs are common for teams the year after they host the Grey Cup, Ottawa's problems are more significant because of the confusing ownership situation.

When reached yesterday in Florida, even Smith said he wasn't sure how it will all unfold. He did, however, predict a settlement was near.

"There's a good chance you're going to see things work themselves through pretty quickly now," said Smith. "I think we're getting awfully close."

Meanwhile, Lonie Glieberman arrived in Ottawa last night after spending the day driving from his home in Detroit.

Glieberman will meet with Renegades officials today at Frank Clair Stadium, where he will begin the "due diligence" necessary before any transaction takes place.

"Basically, I'm not going to discuss the negotiations we've had," said Glieberman, whose family bought the Rough Riders in 1991 after they had been abandoned by a local ownership group. "We're doing this one day at a time, and we'll see where things go."

WILTSHIRE JOINS ESKS: The Eskimos bolstered their defence by signing free-agent LB Kelly Wiltshire. Wiltshire spent the past three years with the Renegades, leading the club in tackles with 79 and 76 the past two seasons.


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