Lonie replacements a bad 2-for-1 deal

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

The Renegades did as expected and offered up another 2-for-1 deal yesterday. This one was not Lonie's idea.

At least temporarily, Phil Kershaw and John Lisowski will run the business on a daily basis, replacing the younger Glieberman.

Where's he going? Well, back to the ski resort for now, but even Lonie's not sure if he's still the president or, as his father Bernie suggested last week, the co-owner.

In a move Bernie was brainwashed into believing would be best for the club, Lonie was urged to relinquish the reins -- an announcement that, despite speculation, he still hadn't decided to make for sure 15 minutes prior to the press conference.

That he passed them to Kershaw and Lisowski until, or if, a chief operating officer is formally hired was predictable and somewhat bothering.

Kershaw's return to a role of prominence, either full-time or part-time, should be especially unsettling. He was president of the Rough Riders at their worst, when Bruce Firestone was owner.

Ticket prices were jacked sky high. Small businesses were screwed over as bills went unpaid until the team finally declared bankruptcy. Maybe none of it was Kershaw's fault, but he was the franchise frontman.

WALLS CRASHING IN

He smiled, shook hands and relayed the message that everything was fine as the walls were crashing in.

More than a decade later, he is teamed with Lisowski, who didn't seem to have a problem with Lonie before Kershaw returned last summer. Now, they comprise a duo that has somehow persuaded a father to fire his own son, no matter how anyone wants to paint the picture. Forrest Gregg remains next on their hit list.

"I've already advised Bernie that," Lisowski said when asked if the team needed a new GM.

"There's a problem with none of the coaches being here ... the GM's not here. Perception is reality, and the perception is the football team is running behind."

Exactly why does Gregg need to be here at this time of year? To do radio interviews and then be ridiculed for momentarily forgetting his QB's name by a broadcaster who -- during Grey Cup week, 2004 -- repeatedly called the best player in the league Dave Dickerson, despite the rest of the world knowing him as Dickenson?

Since he was named head coach, John Jenkins has been spending most every waking hour putting his team together. Would it be better for him to be in his office than scouring the land for talent?

And would a new GM want to inherit a renegade like Jenkins as his coach? If not, there goes four months of work down the toilet. That's reality. That's running behind.

In his undressing of Kershaw and Lisowski during Wednesday's presser, Jenkins must have won over the legions of fans who have on occasion wanted to tell their boss to shove it. Asked yesterday if he was going to advise Bernie to turf Jenkins, Lisowski smiled and replied: "He hasn't lost a game for us."

Lisowski's heart is in the right place. He's a football fan and a smart businessman.

"If Bernie and (minority owner) Bill Smith (remember him?) could keep losses to a million bucks (per year) they would run this team forever," said Lisowski. "We were getting close, but the lack of season-ticket sales is a problem."

Renewal rates are at 74%, which Lonie believes to be as high as anywhere right now. Most of that is the 2-for-1 sale that is at 124% renewal as fans have bought up extra seats.

SENDING 'CLEAR SIGNAL'

"The customer is sending a very clear signal," said Lonie. "It's not that they hate me ... although maybe some do ... but it's that maybe they don't hate me as much when it's a good deal.

"I guess fans are upset with me, people inside the organization are upset with me and the league office is likely upset with me," added Lonie. "My father is quite frustrated. My relationship with him is more important than fighting over a football team."

In the meantime, Lonie is gone, sort of, and so are his unconventional ideas. His next one sounded fun, too. He wanted to give $100,000 to the person who sold the most season tickets. The contest was going to be open to everyone.

"It's not truly life and death," he said about the Renegades. "It's about going to a football game and having fun."

It's nice to have that option while we still do.


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