'Gades' fate out of their hands

CFL commissioner Tom Wright. (SUN/Sean Kilpatrick)

CFL commissioner Tom Wright. (SUN/Sean Kilpatrick)

BARRE CAMPBELL, DON BRENNAN AND JIM BENDER -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

Canadian Football League governors have been summoned to Toronto today to determine the future of the Ottawa Renegades.

The fact alone that the league requested representatives from the eight other teams to arrive in person might indicate an unexpected turn in the ongoing saga about the team's ownership.

If the league was preparing to shut down the Renegades, it would have been easier just to hold a teleconference, do the dirty work, and suspend the club for the 2006 season.

But it remains a possibility -- although most observers believe it to be remote -- that a buyer is waiting in the wings, somebody most governors could meet in person today, or at least learn about for the first time.

This theory -- and there are plenty of them floating out there -- is supported by Dean Albrecht, who had interest in the Renegades.

Albrecht travelled to Toronto late during the week and met with CFL commissioner Tom Wright.

Following the meeting, he told the Sun the league had already located a buyer and that details about an ownership transfer were being discussed.

Ken Hildahl, chairman of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, told Sun Media yesterday the league is still talking to people who might be willing to operate the Renegades during the coming season.

"We'll have to make a tough decision," said Hildahl. "I'm still not optimistic, but we'll see what happens."

OWNERS BACK AWAY

The league has been seeking a Renegades saviour since March 22, when it announced majority owner Bernie Glieberman and minority holder Bill Smith had agreed to sell the team.

Glieberman had proposed the league to take over the club, but only if the CFL and its other teams would pick up some $2 million in losses during the upcoming season. But governors rejected it.

Estimated losses for the Renegades for 2006 are between $4-6 million.

Since the team went up for sale, several groups and individuals have expressed interest in the club.

None have been considered serious bidders.

Earlier this week, a bid by Toronto-based Golden Gate Capital fell through.

If the league doesn't have a buyer, the governors could decide today to suspend the club's operations for 2006 and find an owner for the 2007 campaign.

There is also a faint possibility that the league and the governors would make a last-minute decision to bail the Renegades out to avoid the messy task of reworking the 2006 schedule and holding a dispersal draft of Ottawa players.

CFL teams, including the 'Gades, supported the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during recent seasons when the league looked for new owners.

"Our (Winnipeg's) preference is to keep a team in Ottawa and, in the long run, we are committed to a franchise in Ottawa," said Hildahl.

"It should be an interesting meeting."

The Renegades have also attracted interest from at least one group that would move the team in 2007 to Quebec City, but Wright has been adamant that bids to move the club from Ottawa would not be entertained.

barrie.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos