The League is suspending operations of the franchise while the search for new ownership continues. In making the announcement, the CFL also released a revised game and broadcast schedule for 2006.
"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, " said Commissioner Tom Wright. "The decision was a difficult one, but the right one. We will not sacrifice our potential long-term success in Ottawa or any other market in Canada for a short-term solution."
"It is because of our growth over the last several years and our current strength across the country that we are in a position to act boldly in the face of this issue," said Tom Robinson, Chair of the CFL Board of Governors. "From all points of measure - business, community engagement, quality-of-play - the League is the strongest it has been in a generation."
Commisioner Wright added, "With Toronto and Hamilton, we have seen that strong ownership and the right leadership can produce turnaround successes. We are confident that Ottawa can and should be the home of a competitive football team."
"The search project will continue to be a vigorous one, with a comprehensive screening mechanism in place to ensure potential candidates have the long-term commitment, financial stability and business acumen to own and operate a successful, competitive franchise on par with the rest of the CFL clubs," added the Commissioner. A new owner or ownership group will only be selected if they meet strict criteria that will ensure Ottawa-Gatineau fans of a tier-one on-field and off-field product.
The Board is aligned and resolute in its vision for football in Ottawa," said Mr. Robinson. "The CFL appreciates the support that continues to be shown by fans and League partners throughout the process of revitalizing our franchise in the nation's capital."
In a related announcement the League confirmed that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will join the League's East Division. With the change, a new 72 game schedule was released, again tentatively featuring broadcast coverage for all games. The schedule also includes key regional and team-by-team rivalries as central elements.
The League confirmed that it will hold a dispersal draft shortly.