John KimESPN staff writer5 minutes to read
The NFL has scheduled a meeting next month where the owners are expected to vote on a sale A source confirmed to ESPN on Friday that Washington captains a group led by Josh Harris.
The NFL has sent a memo to the owners that a meeting will be held on July 20 to discuss the sale of captains from Dan and Tanya Snyder to the Harris Group for $6.05 billion.
The vote will likely take place, based on expected unanimous approval by the Finance Committee, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the meeting. The vote could be held in Minneapolis, where the owners met in late May.
The committee has not yet recommended approval, but the fact that a private meeting has been scheduled indicates the direction the sale is headed. Usually, owners adhere to the committee’s recommendations. For a sale to be approved, 24 of the 32 owners must vote.
Last year, for example, the committee recommended unanimous approval on July 27 in connection with the sale of the Denver Broncos to a group led by Wal-Mart heir Rob Walton. The owners voted their approval on August 9.
There was a strong push to finalize the Leaders’ deal, according to multiple sources, and move on from Snyders before the season even began. Because of this, despite concerns about the structure of Harris’ bid at various points, many remained optimistic the deal would go through. Multiple sources said Snyder was keen to end the process as well.
Washington opens training camp on July 26.
On June 7, the Finance Committee met with Harris for two and a half hours in New York City. Then, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, one of the eight members of the committee, expressed optimism to ESPN about the direction of Harris’ bid. At owners’ meetings last month, Irsay was adamant that work needed to be done to get the show in line with NFL guidelines.
“I am hopeful because of their inspiring side, their enthusiasm and their track record,” Irsay said after meeting Harris. “We’re just trying to work through those final details. And I hope we can. I would imagine something in mid-to-late July would be the earliest we call a league meeting.” Shortly after that meeting, the NFL notified the teams that potential voting would take place on July 20 or August 8.
Harris’ group includes Washington, D.C. billionaire Mitchell Rales plus NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson among its 20 limited partners — and they all had to be vetted by the committee, adding to the length of time it recommended approval.
The committee worked with Harris to get his bid in accordance with NFL guidelines. Irsay said several times in the past two months there have been concerns about the amount of debt Harris holds and the amount of equity in his offering.
According to NFL guidelines, the new owner cannot take on more than $1.1 billion in debt and must pay off 30% of the offer. Irsay also said that Harris and Rales want the league to work with them “particularly from a tax point of view”.
“They know it can’t be smoke and mirrors,” Irsay told ESPN in early June, after the panel met with Harris. “It’s a complicated deal.”
But Irsay, as well as others in the league including commissioner Roger Goodell, said they would not change guidelines to accommodate Harris.
Harris entered into a signed exclusive deal with co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder on May 12, besting Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos’ $6 billion bid.
The Snyders shocked the NFL by putting the Leaders up for sale on November 2—less than two weeks after issuing a statement announcing they would never sell the team. The NFL investigated the work culture under Snyder for about a year before fining the franchise $10 million in July 2021.
But the House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched its own investigation into Snyder in October 2021, an investigation that only ended when Republicans took control last fall. Prosecutors general in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia also investigated alleged financial irregularities by leaders from the Snyder era, prior to 2020.
Also, attorney Mary Jo White continues to investigate allegations against Snyder. A source in the league said the findings of that report could be published before the final vote.
Once approved, Harris will be the fifth owner of the franchise. George Preston Marshall owned the team from 1932—when it was based in Boston—until his death in 1969; Edward Bennett Williams was the primary owner from 1970 to 1974, when Jack Kent Cook became majority owner. Snyder bought the team in 1999 for $800 million, two years after Cook’s death.
The team went 164-220-2 under Snyder. Washington has not won a playoff game since the 2005 season and has not won 11 or more regular season games since 1991. From 1971 to 92, the franchise played in five Super Bowl games and won three. They compiled an 18-10 playoff record during this stretch.
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