Another CFL crisis

Bernie Glieberman is out as owner of the Ottawa Renegades, putting the future of the franchise in...

Bernie Glieberman is out as owner of the Ottawa Renegades, putting the future of the franchise in doubt. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

It's third and long for the Renegades ... again

The beleaguered CFL club is on the verge of extinction following a decision by owners Bernie Glieberman and Bill Smith to dump the team.

Commissioner Tom Wright revealed that strategy, with less than two months before the start of training camp, following an emergency conference call with CFL governors yesterday.

Wright has established a committee to search for new owners. The search group includes himself, chair Tom Robinson of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and B.C. Lions owner David Braley.

The league is considering several options, including folding the Renegades if a buyer isn't located soon.

"The fans in Ottawa do deserve to have clarity," said Wright during another conference call with reporters.

"We will be committing over the next several weeks to making that decision. We will be in a better position in early April to make that final determination. That's when the fans in Ottawa will find out."

NEED OWNER FAST

If a new owner isn't in place within the next two or three weeks, the league would likely move toward shutting down the Renegades, who were established in November of 2001 and have played four seasons in the CFL.

During a radio interview later in the evening, Wright said the league and the eight other teams would also consider financing the Renegades through the 2006 season if a buyer couldn't be found.

But that scenario is considered a long shot at best because teams would be reluctant to spend their money to finance another unstable Ottawa football project.

Perhaps the best hope for the ill-fated football fans of Ottawa rests with Eugene Melnyk.

The Senators owner answered questions about CFL ownership during a press conference on Tuesday about a bid he's leading for Ottawa to host the world junior hockey championship.

Melnyk said he hadn't been approached about taking over the Renegades, but never outright rejected the notion either.

Wright said yesterday he has not spoken to Melnyk.

"As we go forward in the process, we will be having opportunities to speak with prospective individuals," the commissioner said.

Asked about the possibility of the Renegades being operated under community ownership, Wright said he and the governors wouldn't rule it out.

"I don't think it's necessarily a non-starter," said Wright, who has been in contact this week with Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli.

Among those left in the dark in the latest twist to the story are Renegades players.

"The team has been in a state of chaos for so long now that nobody really knows where to start anymore," Renegades linebacker Jason Kralt said last night.

"I know my phone will be ringing a lot in the next few days and I'll have to answer a lot of questions."

Quarterback Kerry Joseph, speaking from Orlando last night, said he feels badly for teammates and fans.

"If I could pray for one thing, it would be for something positive to come out of this," said Joseph.

Glieberman took control of 51% of the team last May in partnership with Smith, who was an original owner of the franchise when it began operations in late 2001.

The club began having ownership trouble following the 2003 season when a rift developed between Smith and another owner, Randy Gillies, over the direction of the Renegades under president Brad Watters.


Videos

Photos