Renegades won't play in 2006
The CFL has mothballed the Ottawa Renegades for a year, announcing Sunday it has suspended operations for the franchise for the 2006 season.
"Today's decision is in the best interest of our game and our fans, and represents the best opportunity to secure long-term stability and success for Canadian football in the nation's capital," league commissioner Tom Wright said in a statement.
"We will not sacrifice our potential long-term success in Ottawa or any other market for a short-term solution."
The decision came after the league's board of governors convened in Toronto to discuss the fate of the franchise. With training camp starting in less than two months, the league will now focus on finding a new owner to bring the Renegades back for the 2007 season.
Ottawa's departure means the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will compete in the East Division, ensuring the league's two divisions have four teams each.
Players under contract to Ottawa, including star quarterback Kerry Joseph and receiver Jason Armstead, will be divided amongst the other seven teams in a dispersal draft. A draft date has yet to be determined. Renegades head coach John Jenkins and his staff will have to find new jobs.
As a result of Sunday's decision, the Touchdown Atlantic exhibition game in Halifax between the Montreal Alouettes and Renegades was cancelled.
League fails to find Renegades new owner
The last month has proved to be a trying time for football fans in Ottawa.
The CFL spent two weeks trying to find a new owner for the Renegades after Bernie Glieberman, a Detroit-area businessman who bought the team last May, told the league he would not continue to invest in it.
The Renegades lost nearly $4 million last year, a figure that was expected to rise to $6 million this season.
Glieberman met with Wright in an attempt to convince the commissioner to bail out the team and help cover some of the franchise's costs for the 2006 season.
The Renegades were put up for sale on March 22 after the CFL owners rejected a financial proposal tabled by Glieberman that called on the league to give the team a $2-million loan to help fund the season.
After turning down Glieberman, the league established a committee to find a new owner in time for the start of this year's campaign.
The league spoke with several prospective buyers, including Eugene Melynk, owner of the NHL's Ottawa Senators, but could not reach a deal with a new ownership group.
With the new season just around the corner, Wright decided to put the team on ice for a year while continuing the search for a new owner.
Money couldn't buy fans' loyalties
Glieberman and his son Lonie have had a tenuous relationship with Ottawa football fans since first setting foot in the nation's capital in 1991 with wads of American greenbacks and promises aplenty.
Glieberman bought the Ottawa Rough Riders that year for a dollar, assumed nearly $1 million in debt and — temporarily at least — revived the team's fortunes.
Backed by Bernie, and fronted by Lonie, Ottawa finished with a respectable 9-9 record that first season and the club's stock rose. But one year later, the Riders were the CFL's laughing stock and the Gliebermans became public enemies No. 1 in Ottawa.
Lonie fired general manager Dan Rambo on the eve of the 1993 CFL season, a move that proved to be the first of many mistakes made by the team president.
Mistakes continued, such as bringing former all-pro sack machine Dexter Manley to town, despite the fact he was banned by the NFL for drug use.
Fans scoffed at Lonie's pursuit of former NFL head coach Mike Ditka and fumed over Bernie's constant threats to relocate the team to the United States.
Riders sold for $1.85M
Eventually, Glieberman sold the Riders to Bruce Firestone for $1.85 million and established the Shreveport Pirates, considered a key element in the CFL's failed expansion into the United States.
Glieberman and his son made their peace with Ottawa's fickle football fans when he bailed out the Renegades before the start of last season.
Ottawa began the 2005 campaign with a 5-3 record but then lost six in a row and finished third in the East Division at 7-11. It was the team's fourth straight losing season.
Before Ottawa's final game, the Gliebermans announced Joe Paopao, the club's popular and likeable coach, would not be back in 2006, creating even more discontent in Ottawa.
with files from Canadian Press