Bill Palmer says he has not withdrawn his interest in a CFL franchise.
What he might not realize is that some in the CFL have lost interest in him.
Palmer, the frontman for a group of American/Canadian businessmen bidding to put a team in Ottawa, denied a story in yesterday's Sun that said the consortium had walked away from talks with the league, primarily because of its objection to a $5-million franchise fee.
Indeed, he believes he's still very much in the game.
"We continue to have very positive and productive negotiations, and they are ongoing," Palmer said yesterday from Indianapolis in a conversation limited by his vow to abide by a "confidentiality agreement" with the CFL. "If our group decided we didn't want to participate any longer in this process, we would issue a statement.
"We would not keep everyone in the dark."
Of course, he'd have to change that way of thinking if he ever did secure membership in a league that prefers to swat the hand that reaches for a light switch.
The CFL must have a printer set aside strictly for "confidentiality agreements." Yesterday, in a statement that it is "continuing positive discussions" with a potential investor for Ottawa, the league would not even acknowledge Palmer has ever been a suitor.
Obviously, the CFL sees an importance in keeping that stuff a secret from folks.In any case, there are still a couple of well-connected, misguided individuals within the CFL walls who also understand the value of keeping the product's customers up to speed, as much as possible, in dealings that are still cared about. To help ensure the product is still cared about.
And at least one of them is saying that Palmer is not a good fit for this league. That he's coming across as arrogant. That not only does he disagree with having to pay a franchise fee, but it's as though he believes the league should pay him to join.
And there's also some serious doubt among those in the high-ranking circles that Palmer doesn't have the money to join this game.
INTEREST STILL THERE
However, in a rare interview granted to the Sun, Palmer maintained there has not been a point in discussions that he either thought of pulling back or that he felt the league wanted him to go away.
"I can't get into any details. I have to respect the agreement I have with the league," he said. "But we are going forward, and we're very positive about where we are going. Things are moving along well.
"I'm more interested in a deal that allows us to sustain the team for a long time," he added, refusing to discuss the franchise fee or divulge the identity of his partners. "We're very thoughtful, very deliberate ... if everything comes to fruition, everybody will be introduced and be known."
Asked if there were any more meetings scheduled with the league before Christmas, Palmer again referred to the process as "ongoing" and said that talks are just as likely to be held via a conference call as in person. He would not say whether league officials had yet to meet any of the members of his group.
"You have to be confident, you have to be optimistic," he said when asked about his gut feeling for the eventual outcome. "We love this league. We love the CFL. Ottawa deserves to have a great franchise run by a well structured group of people.
"Our group has never wavered, and the (CFL) appears to be as interested in us as it has always been. It's not that big a group. It's not like we're dealing with strangers, necessarily.
"We just have to go through the process. It's a deliberate process."
Not to mention a very, very slow one.