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NFL’s Review of Commanders Sale Has ‘A Little Ways’ To Go

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay said Josh Harris’ agreement to $6.05B purchase has ‘complexities.’
  • It is still expected that Harris’ purchase will get an ownership vote this summer.
Jim Irsay
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EAGAN, Minn. — Washington Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder aren’t here. Nobody from Josh Harris’ ownership group is expected to attend these NFL owners meetings either. 

But work continued behind the scenes by the NFL finance committee on Monday, and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said there’s “a little ways” to go before a vote will be scheduled to approve Harris’ $6.05 billion purchase of the Commanders. 

“It’s a complicated deal, so we are trying to just work through it,” said Irsay, a member of the NFL finance committee.

“It is going to take several more weeks of discussions before we see if we can reach the goal. They’re hopeful and we want to work in that direction.”

Harris and the Snyders didn’t finalize a deal until 11 days ago, so there wasn’t going to be a vote at these meetings that run through Tuesday. 

The next step in the process is scheduling the vote, and an ownership source told Front Office Sports that will likely be decided over the next five weeks. The special meeting where owners will converge for the vote could occur as early as late July, although the same source said August would be more likely.

But before that special meeting occurs this summer, NFL finance committee is comfortable with how Harris’ deal is structured. 

“I know that by any definition or standard it sounds like a long process, but this is a significant thing for everybody involved, [including] the fans in Washington,” Dallas Cowboys owners Jerry Jones said. ” “I think doing it right and having people of this caliber [who are part of Harris’ group) involved is worthwhile.”

There are no indications that any current concerns will keep Harris from meeting the three-fourths (24 or more owners) vote threshold, and he will likely have unanimous or near-unanimous approval. 

“I think it will get done,” Jones said.

Sources told FOS that the particulars on the structure of the deal are less about Harris’ financing to comply with NFL debt limits, and more to do with the number of limited partners. 

Each member of an ownership group is subject to not only a review of that person’s finances, but the league also conducts a criminal background check. 

Harris has at least a dozen others in his ownership group, which includes fellow billionaires Mitchell Rales, Eric Schmidt and David Blitzter. Blizter and Harris co-own the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, although the NFL did away with cross-ownership rules years ago.  

Harris’ group has an estimated net worth of around $100 billion. 

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have more co-owners than Harris’ group, no other group seeking to purchase a team has had this many limited partners. 

Harris and Blitzer are in the process of selling their 5% stake in the Steelers, and that transaction — one required before Harris’ group can take over the Commanders — is expected to to close before an NFL ownership vote, a source told FOS. 

There can be as many as 24 limited partners under the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. 

“I can’t speak really specifically on the structure [of Harris’ deal] except to say deals are getting more complicated than ever with the numbers getting up there to $6 billion,” Irsay said. “It’s not unusual to see some complexities in deals.

“You just have to vet them through to make sure. There are different layers of league policy that exist beyond just the debt acquisition. So, it’s just trying to make sure deals comply with that.”

Jones said the number of limited partners isn’t an issue “if it’s structured right, which it will be.”

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