At long last, the original owners of the Ottawa Renegades are parting company.
Co-majority shareholders Bill Smith and Randy Gillies have finally reached a settlement that paves the way for Bernie Glieberman to take over controlling interest of the CFL franchise.
In the deal, Smith acquires the 30% owned by Gillies and 10% owned by Rick Baker, cementing negotiations that have been ongoing for the past six months, at least.
Smith plans on selling 51% of the team to Glieberman, with whom he will become partners. It's expected Bill and Brad Watters will also retain shares in the club.
The Renegades will need to name a new governor, a title which belonged to the outgoing Gillies.
"We have an agreement," Smith told the Sun last night from his home in Orillia. "I don't foresee any problems at this point."
Smith, however, did acknowledge his sale to Glieberman is pending CFL approval. It's believed the league constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote. If there's strong opposition to the transaction -- and Smith says nothing he has heard to date suggests there would be -- the Renegades could be faced with a major setback.
Smith said either a new partner would have to be found -- and there's been no serious interest since the Renegades began looking for investors almost immediately after they were granted a franchise -- or the CFL would have to take over control of the team.
The latter move would lead to a bare-bones operation in Ottawa, and an expected $2.5-4 million shortfall for the league.
While the Renegades have lost $10 million in their first three years, it's unknown what Gillies was reimbursed for his shares. It's also unknown how much Glieberman will pay for his chunk.
Awhile back, Gillies told potential buyers the whole team was available for $5 million, which suggests Glieberman was asked for between $2-3 million.
But when Glieberman was first negotiating for half the team back in December, there existed a deal which would see the Detroit millionaire pick up losses for two years in return.
Lonie Glieberman, who was in Ottawa doing "due diligence" last week, refused to divulge any details of the impending purchase. The younger Glieberman spent Wednesday and part of yesterday at the family-owned ski resort in upper Michigan, but he'll return to the capital tomorrow.
"Things have moved a long way in the last 14 days," he said of the bid to return to the city where he and his father owned the Rough Riders from 1992-1994. "It looks pretty good."
Asked when a deal for the Renegades might be completed, he said: "If we keep progressing like we are, I would think it could close within the next two weeks or so."
NOTE: CFL commissioner Tom Wright has been offered a one-year renewal of his contract, which expires after this season, with the proviso he hire a chief operating officer, sources said yesterday.