Crunch time for 'Gades

PERRY LEFKO, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

The latest talks in the bid to keep professional football alive in Ottawa for the 2006 season will continue today.

It's believed the three-person search committee the Canadian Football League appointed to oversee the transfer of the Ottawa Renegades to a new ownership group -- if one with the financial wherewithal and will to run the team this year can be found in time -- worked vigorously during the weekend to help facilitate a deal and will provide an update to all other teams.

With training camps set to open in less than two months, one source suggested the next 72 hours are critical in making some kind of decision. That could mean extending the timetable by a few more days -- likely Friday at the latest -- if the right ownership group is in place. Rumours continue that one group in particular has a strong desire to do something and has solid financial backing, but has no previous experience in sports management.

OWNERSHIP

If the ownership group cannot be put in place within the next week, CFL commissioner Tom Wright will announce the suspension of the franchise for at least the 2006 season and an immediate dispersal draft of the team's players, likely next week.

One option is for the league to operate the team and have it play its home games on the road while continuing to put an ownership group in place.

The Ottawa Sun yesterday identified one potential ownership group headed by Florida-based Dean Albrecht, who negotiated the purchase of the Argos on behalf of Sherwood Schwarz after the 1999 season and was the team's director in the first year. He contacted the league last week with a list of questions on structuring the Renegades and was told he would be contacted again this week.

Albrecht's group reportedly would put up an initial security, likely $8 million, but set up a limited partnership to allow the community to buy individual units amounting to a 50% ownership stake.


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