If this is the end of the Ottawa Renegades, it may also be the end of CFL commissioner Tom Wright.
Moreover, the CFL's expansion dreams may also go down the tubes if, as is widely feared, the league is forced to pull the plug on the money-losing Gades.
After all, the primary logic of expansion to Atlantic Canada or Quebec City is to get to 10 teams. The loss of the Renegades would make that all but impossible, particularly since it might well kill the CFL in Ottawa for good.
"We should be a 10-team league. An eight-team league is going in the wrong direction," said Hamilton owner Bob Young yesterday. "It makes the league less interesting, it hurts our broadcast deal with our partners and it sends an indication to the country that this is still the Crisis Football League."
The league is waiting for Ottawa owner Bernie Glieberman to declare his future intentions after his much-mocked son Lonie resigned in disgrace, or at least amidst general laughter, two weeks ago.
The elder Glieberman owns 51 per cent of the team, and yesterday reports suggested minority owner Bill Smith isn't committed to continuing his association with the football team until a number of financial matters are clarified.
But with Lonie gone and the team as much or more of a mess as it was the first time the Glieberguys screwed it up, why would Bernie Glieberman stay?
Moreover, other than having somebody to cover the bills of a horrendous, unpopular football team, why would anybody want him to?
If he leaves, however, there's little reason to believe a team expected to lose upwards of $5 million this season would be able to attract new ownership. Already, Ottawa has seen two prominent players, running back Josh Ranek and centre George Hudson, bolt as free agents to Hamilton, which will make selling season-ticket subscriptions above the current level of 2,000-4,000 even more difficult.
"There's no reason why properly run Ottawa couldn't have the same kind of financial success as Hamilton," argued Young yesterday.
But asked to comment on reports that the Tiger-Cats may be willing to lend some of their marketing and ticket personnel to the Renegades, Young was non-committal.
"Nothing's decided," he said. "And who would we be helping?"
Wright, meanwhile, may find himself again in the crosshairs of malcontent owners like B.C.'s David Braley and Bob Wetenhall of the Montreal Alouettes. Wright pushed for the Gliebermans to be allowed back into the CFL fold against Braley's wishes, and the commish doesn't have a contract beyond this year's Grey Cup game.
In January, don't forget, Wright pushed through a new $3.8 million salary cap system, with only Braley and Wetenhall voting against the proposal.
Being out of the country on vacation in the Dominican Republic and allowing CFL executive Brent Scrimshaw to speak on behalf of the league, meanwhile, is simply bad optics for the commissioner.
As it stands, the Renegades are supposed to be the host team for the second Touchdown Atlantic game in Halifax June 3. If the league is reduced to eight teams, a last-minute replacement would have to be found for that game against Montreal, and the entire 2006 schedule would have to be junked and re-done.
That, in itself, would be a logistical challenge, as league schedule-maker Ed Chalupka was dumped by the league in January, a firing that Wetenhall called "incomprehensible."
Winnipeg, most likely, would have to be shifted back to the East again, an awkward move in the same year the Blue Bombers are hosting the Grey Cup.
"I'm not going to comment on something like that," said president Lyle Bauer. "Should something like that manifest itself, we'll deal with it then."
Having to choose between letting the Glieberman family operate the franchise or letting the team go under is a terrible one for the league, and there's little stomach for having the other eight owners underwrite a club in Ottawa.
Unless Eugene Melnyk decides he'd like to own a Canadian pigskin outfit in addition to his highly-rated NHL team, Ottawa may soon be without football.
Again. And for good.