Situation critical

Tom Wright. (SUN/Dave Abel)

Tom Wright. (SUN/Dave Abel)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 PM ET

The official team colours of the Renegades: Black and Code Red.

CFL commissioner Tom Wright yesterday pledged the league's commitment to keeping professional football in Ottawa by finding a solution to correct the critical state of the Renegades franchise.

"People understand that there is a sense of urgency," said Wright yesterday during a phone interview.

Asked if the league itself would use the same term of urgency, he replied, "absolutely."

Next week, Renegades majority owner Bernie Glieberman and minority owner Bill Smith will meet at the league office in downtown Toronto, summoned there by Wright to discuss the affairs of the club.

Wright wouldn't say on which day the meeting would take place, and refused to provide specifics of the meeting's agenda. But he provided a few details of discussions he had recently with Glieberman who spent the week in Costa Rica on business.

DAILY CONTACT

They spoke with each other by phone yesterday morning, and Wright revealed he and the Renegades owner had averaged at least one form of contact daily during the last few weeks since trouble erupted in the team's operations.

Asked about speculative fan concerns that Glieberman might be interested in relocating the club to an expansion site such as Halifax or Windsor, Wright said he had never heard of either scenario.

"This is a nine-team league that's going to be a 10-team league, and we're going to do everything we can to keep football a success in Ottawa, and that's the sense I get from Bernie," Wright said.

Lonie Glieberman, the owner's son, stepped aside Thursday as the person in charge of the team's business operations, allowing John Lisowski and Phil Kershaw to temporarily take over those functions.

Wright said the league has no preferred candidate in mind to assume the team's business operations, but sources say Bob Nicholson, the VP of finance of baseball's Washington Nationals and former Argos president, is being backed by the league.

"When it comes down to leadership structure, it's up to the owners. The CFL doesn't decide who runs these clubs," said the commissioner.

"I'm not going to put some sort of artificial timetable on these things, on whatever structure is right to lead the team."

TILLMAN BACKS AWAY

Meanwhile, former Renegades GM Eric Tillman repeated during a radio interview in Ottawa yesterday that he is not interested in returning to his old job as long as Forrest Gregg holds the position.

Speaking about Gregg and Renegades coach John Jenkins, Tillman said, "I hope they get the opportunity to take this team to the field together collectively, and let the results speak for themselves."

Former Rough Riders player Mark Kosmos, a candidate to take over the team's business operations, has also gone public with his reluctance to take a job with the 'Gades.

Lonie Glieberman departed Ottawa yesterday and was en route to his ski resort in northern Michigan where he'll spend most of the remaining winter.

His father was to return from Central America to his home in Detroit this weekend.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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