Renegades rescue plan in doubt

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Despite league assurances that progress was being made in the Ottawa Renegades salvage operation, the prevailing mood in the Canadian Football League last night was one of deep concern.

Club officials remained largely in the dark about what league governors would hear in a telephone conference call concerning the club. The call was planned for this afternoon, but has been delayed until tomorrow.

Wright was expected to detail a plan whereby majority owner Bernie Glieberman would accept some of the estimated $6-million in losses for the 2006 season, perhaps as much as $3-million. The rest of the Renegades' deficit would be covered by the league. That could end up costing the eight other franchises $400,000 to $600,000 each.

But a team source yesterday said discussion among the clubs had revealed an overwhelming consensus against funding Ottawa to any degree.

Funding is a tough sell among governors who have grown impatient with the Ottawa situation in the past 1½ years and are hesitant to throw what many argue would be good money after bad.

Wright, who returned from vacation on Sunday, met with Glieberman and also spoke with minority partner Bill Smith by phone.

The league office issued a statement claiming "significant progress was achieved in establishing clarity and identifying options for 2006 and beyond."

Three years ago, the CFL operated both the cash-starved Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but, because those were midseason bankruptcies, the league was only on the hook for half the season and therefore less money.

In this case, the Renegades would have to be funded from training camp through 18 regular-season games. Ottawa is currently functioning with a bare-bones staff with no ability to sell tickets or sponsorships as the team twists in the wind.

The lack of infrastructure makes running the Renegades more akin to a start-up operation than a takeover. One source estimated losses for such an operation could reach as high as $8-million.

While many club officials were once confident that Ottawa could be salvaged for the coming season, most have become far less optimistic. It is believed that the league and commissioner Wright only became aware of the severity of the problem in recent weeks, which explains why the CFL is now faced with a difficult decision so close to the opening of training camps, two months away.

There has been talk the CFL may consider suspending the Renegades for 2006. That's a tactic used by the National Lacrosse League to avoid folding a franchise. However, the nature of building a competitive CFL team would render any future team starting from scratch a tough sell in a market already suffering from four losing seasons.

Even if the Renegades can be saved, this recent episode is expected to be a blow to Wright, who is entering the final year of his contract. Under his tenure as commissioner, one-third of the CFL's teams have succumbed to financial woes and turned to the league for assistance.

Governors David Braley of the B.C. Lions and Robert Wetenhall of the Montreal Alouettes wanted a new commissioner hired when Wright's contract expired last year. Instead, Wright was given a one-year extension.

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The CFL sent a message to Renegades fans yesterday. Basically, it amounted to this: Go screw yourselves.

At 6 p.m. last night, the league issued a release which provided absolutely no substance to what took place during yesterday's meeting involving Renegades owner Bernie Glieberman, outgoing minority shareholder Bill Smith and league commissioner Tom Wright.

The CFL has issued a gag order throughout the league that nothing is to be uttered about the Renegades situation.

So while fans continue to twist in the wind, and Renegades players and coaches are left in the dark wondering if there'll be a kickoff to the 2006 season, the league finds it acceptable to bring out the Cone of Silence.

That's just plain wrong and it goes a long way in illustrating how dreadfully out of touch the current league leadership is dealing with this matter.

At the very least, Wright should have made himself available to reporters to provide some sort of insight on what's going on.

Instead, fans get to hear this canned response: "Significant progress was achieved in establishing clarity and identifying options for 2006 and beyond."

What does that mean?

We know Renegades fans can smell the B.S., just like anybody else.

Clarity? There's none of that here.

Options? Okay, what kinds?

What are the football fans of Ottawa to assume? Perhaps they should do just that -- assume.

Assume there won't be a Renegades team this season.

Let's believe Glieberman, making like Howard Beale in Network, thumbed his nose at Wright, stormed out of the meeting screaming, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

NO LAUGHING MATTER

Really, it's no laughing matter.

Perhaps Glieberman made a commitment yesterday to covering a portion of team losses for the upcoming season.

If that's the case, the league's not letting anybody know.

One thing that's known is Smith wasn't actually present at the rendezvous. He was out of Toronto and participated in the discussion by conference call.

Wright actually did confirm that he'll convene with the governors at some point later this week.

Again, no date was provided, but it's believed the call will take place tomorrow.

And during that call, the governors will consider and debate the possible moth-balling of the Renegades.

How strange it is that on the same day this debacle took place, the announcement was made about the retirement of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

What perfect juxtaposition.

Under Tagliabue, the NFL became a mega-sport in the U.S., and in many parts of this country. A wire story listed the outgoing commissioner's accomplishments as labour peace, unprecedented revenues through TV deals and "a place in the American consciousness where Sundays mean football."

Meanwhile, the CFL is on the verge of another major embarrassment, with a franchise in this city on the verge of once again being blown up.

Wright wasn't available yesterday to let Renegades fans know -- one way or the other -- whether yesterday's meeting provided some answers.

And soon, it'll be Renegades fans who'll be mad as hell, and won't take this anymore.

....all 2000 of them...lol

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CFL commissioner Tom Wright will hold a teleconference with league governors today to discuss the future of the Ottawa Renegades following a meeting yesterday with the team's principle owner, Bernie Glieberman.

The Detroit businessman, who purchased the Ottawa franchise for the second time last spring, has said he will not foot the entire loss for 2006, projected to be as much as $6 million, by himself.

Glieberman, whose son Lonie recently resigned as club president, assumed the team's entire $3.8 million shortfall in 2005.

Renegades minority owner Bill Smith, who is in Florida and was represented at the meeting by his legal counsel, is out of the picture, leaving the league to help Glieberman finance the team until a new owner can be found or fold the franchise for a second time.

Smith says he is not willing to be the club's sole financier.

Things getting nasty there, the Ottawa Sun using the phrase "go screw yourselves" sounds like they want blood from someone! Ouch but I knew this was coming for sure.

Actually, the Ottawa Sun even comparing the NFL and CFL is another indication they want to make the CFL look really bad.
I've always said the only logic is too compare the major leagues with each other, not other leagues such as the CFL, MLS etc.

But, of course, when it is coming from a Sun newspaper, well, what can you say, we are dealing here with a paper along the same professional lines as the National Enquirer, at best.

is taking a 400,000 to a 600,000 hit really that bad? you can make the money up in no time.

It didnt look good at all.

KK if i were the owner of any of the others 8 teams, i wouldnt want to share the Rens deficit. If you cant find a solid ownership, lets play at 8 teams this year and keep working for next year. No need to sink all because one concession take water.

.......wrong KK, most successful clubs last year made less than 500,000 in profit by my calcs........the governors will not prop up a failed exercise in futility.....Ottawa had it's run and should be put out of misery........2,000 seasons tickets holders is not gonna fly, but I can hardly blame fans for not wanting to throw away their money.......chances are pretty slim there will be any refund.....

If one is going on ther basis let's say the league will share 50/50 in $6M losses. So, we are talking $3 for the league. Of this amount, the TV revenue and corporate dollars of about $1.25 per team and which is divided by the league to its teams should be deducted as Gleib would no longer be the owner. So really we may be talking of the league proping up the Gades by $2 or $250,000 per team.
It has to happen as folding a team should not be an option. We want to continue with forward progress not continously taking 2 forward and 1 back.

500,000 a season, so the debt from Ottawa would be gone in no time if it's 400,000 or 600,000. I would that that and give Ottawa ONE LAST CHACE!!! especailly since moving the team is likly out of the question if their so much in debt. they just need the right owner of become a cumminity team.

if they fold, expansion will never happen.

Man, this is a lot of money to make up. It will be tough on all CFL teams if they have to bail out Ottawa if it is going to cost in the millions. But I think it is worth one more chance here to find a good owner, just one more, unless it would bring the entire league down to where it would put the league in jeapordy. Then, and only then, would I say fold the franchise.

And no moving the Gades to another city with this ownership group.

fold the team.

There is absolutely no way the other teams in this league should have to financially support the constantly struggling Ottawa franchises (again). Blame whomever you want for this situation ... Why would any invester (never mind competitors) want to invest in a city that has proven its a sure failure. So what if we are capable of floating the team for one more season ... Fact is - the fans won't be there the year after either.

How many times are we, as a league, going to be conned into believing the fans in Ottawa care? Read this message board - half the gades fans here stick by not supporting the franchise ... if the locals won't support it - why the hell should the rest of the league?

FOLD THE TEAM.

StatiK76
GO BOMBERS!!!

Kanga, running a football team is a business. Owners usually expect to make money out of it (at least after the first few years). So if you work your butt off to make a profit and succesfully make 500 000$ after a good year, you don't want to see that money just disappear.

And, the following maths operation is pretty scary in itself:

  • 2005: the Rens lose 3,8 millions$
  • Offseason: they lose many free agents and really don't sign any significant one.
  • 2006: even with less players on the payroll (at least temporarilly), they expect to lose 6 millions $

Geez. Why would anyone want to fund such a catastrophic business. If the other 8 owners agree to pay this year, they know they'll receive another invoice next year, because there's no way a team that loses 6 M$ one year will go back to profitability any time soon, even if they have a good year.

Good point Statik…that may be the real reason nobody (Bryden? Melnyk?) has stepped up to but this franchise…it will never turn a profit. As much as I’d like to see a miracle and see Ottawa flourish…I have to sadly agree with Statik…I wish there was another way!

Yes, maybe Ottawa really is different than the Toronto and Hamilton situation's were which is why I guess there will be no one coming forward.

MOVE THEM to QC!...float them in ottawa for this year, while working out the needed business deals to move them to QC for the '07 season.

grey cup 07 will be a tough sell in toronto when u only got an 8 team league...all the more reason for ontario football fans to call the CFL bush and move on to the NFL.

I think Tom Wright stands up pretty well to Paul Tagliabue. When Wright took over the CFL, teams were floundering on the brink of bankruptcy, attendance was weak in a number of major markets, owners were bailing out, numerous games across the country were not televised on any network, and Canada's national network looked at the CFL as an afterthought. Now, eight out of nine teams are doing well at the gate and have stable ownership, TV coverage is total, and the CBC covers the CFL right from the start of the season. There is only one problem spot left to take care of, and that is going to happen, one way or the other, in the next few days.

I want there to be a team in Ottawa this year, even if the league has to take over. But what if the league floats the team for a year, and no owner can be found? Then we'll be talking about this crap again twelve months from now. How often do we have to do this? Will we wait until next March before finding out that, due to the timing, we have to cover the team's losses for '07 as well?

It pains me to say this, but if something isn't going to happen to put the team on solid footing very soon, then I say we forget about the Renegades. This isn't the first time we've gone through this with this team, but one way or another, it should definitely be the last.

if the league were to use thier collective resources, theres no reason why the league, together, couldnt turn the franchise around by seasons end…which would go along way in attracting a new buyer.

this year, the league would be getting the loses half paid for by glieberman, so they can use this whole season to implement the proper business plan and management ( ex. tillman, nicholson ) and start building some positive momentum…so next season comes, and the gades being run properly, can start building on thier attendance numbers…kinda like hamilton and toronto.

2006: loses half paid by glieberman. attendance starts poorly at 15K, but league implements proper business plan and managment…season ends with 22K attendance…continue lookin for buyer ( might be encouraged by how proper management can turn things around )

2007: starts season with 21K. new owner with good management. finishes the season with 25K

2008: starts season with 24K and finishes with 28K…team is stable.

drumming_god wrote:

grey cup 07 will be a tough sell in toronto when u only got an 8 team league...all the more reason for ontario football fans to call the CFL bush and move on to the NFL.
dg, I don't agree. I know when it comes down to it, as much as I'd like Ottawa to stay in the league, I really could care less. I will renew my seasons tickets for the Cats with or without them, not anything that happens in our nations capital really I could give a damn about. And I will give credit to people in Toronto also, I don't think they care about what happens up there also. We will all have a great time with or without the Gades, as unfortunate as it is me saying this. The NHL survived many years with 6 teams and people getting excited about winning the Stanley Cup. 8 teams is fine and dandy with me. And what do you mean "move on to the NFL"? They already have moved on the NFL, I think people in Toronto are realizing that you can love the NFL and still get a kick out of the CFL, Canadian football that has been around for decades etc. People in Toronto I really think can keep the two separate and take each for what it is. I know I can, I like both but have to admit the CFL game is much better. Get with it man! These are different times now, Toronto has good owners, Hamilton also, Montreal and if we have to bring the Peg to the east for a bit, so be it. Ottawa and the Gades situation won't rain on this guys parade, believe me! Whoever'sfault it is, doesn't matter with me, I will continue to love the CFL, 6 teams, 8 teams, 10 teams whatever. The main thing, don't take that beer out of my hand come game time!

unfortunatly, i dont think u are in the majority.

the CFL has seen alot of people jump on thier wagon in a short period of time ( 2 years )....they could see them jump off the wagon just as quickly, if not quicker.

we've been sold on the promise, that, the CFL is healthy again, and growing.....if one team folds, that sence of optimisim is lost.

in two short year, u could find yourself in crowds of 17K in toronto and BC again.