Moag & Company Sports Notes (17 Apr 2023)

Date: Apr 2023


What San Francisco sports team has a seal mascot appropriately named Lou Seal?

Last Week’s Answer: Emmitt Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards.


The Washington Commanders President Jason Wright said that owner Dan Snyder selling the team will “provide a ‘substantial boost’ to the franchise whenever that time comes,” according to the Washington Times. Wright said that it will be reflected “on the business side” -- which he “expects to see ‘accelerate’ and be able to further invest on the football side of the building.” Prospective candidates, 76ers and Devils owner Josh Harris and Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos, have “submitted formal bids for the Commanders that were worth” $6B. The Commanders have been on the market since at least November, when the team announced the Snyder “hired an investment bank to explore ‘potential transactions’ of the franchise.” Wright “made clear” that a sale is “going to happen.” He said that that Snyder’s “family office” has “mostly handled the sale process,” adding that he is “still ‘more than arm’s length away’ from being directly involved.” But as a top executive, Wright said that he has “helped with the transition.” When prospective buyers take tours of the Commanders’ facility, for instance, Wright said that he “leads ‘management presentations’ to the candidates". Sources have confirmed Harris's bid. One of the sources said that the bid is “worth about” $6B, which is the figure that Snyder has been “thought to be seeking.” The amount of Apostolopoulos’ bid “could not be confirmed,” but a person familiar with the NFL’s inner workings “called Apostolopoulos a ‘legitimate’ contender to buy the team.” Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who is a member of the NFL’s finance committee, said, “I would say you may know as much as the league knows, and that’s very rarely the case.” Blank: “The league is definitely supportive of the process. … Whenever the final bidder -- the selected bidder -- is brought into the room, the league has a lot of work to do, which they have not started to do. And that has to be done.” Blank said the league and other owners have had “very minimal communication” with Snyder about the sale. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the owners were “updated ‘briefly’ on the Commanders’ sale process and on attorney Mary Jo White’s investigation of Snyder and the team.” Other “potential buyers” of the team include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.


The Washington Nationals sales process has officially been paused, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation. Though the Lerner family remains intent on a sale of the team, the auction process has been halted to not distract current team management and ownership from operating the franchise for the 2023 season. Multiple sources said the expectation is for the sale process to resume in earnest following the conclusion of the season. The Nationals were first announced to be for sale in April of last year. Sources said the core reason for the prolonged sale process is the Nationals’ ongoing legal dispute with the Baltimore Orioles over MASN, the RSN of which they share ownership. The teams have disagreed over the value of rights fees owed to the Nationals, which own around 24% of MASN. The New York State Court of Appeals earlier this month listened to oral arguments and is expected to make a ruling in the coming months regarding $100M in unpaid rights fees for 2012 to 2016. There is also still uncertainty around the value of rights fees owed to the Nationals for subsequent and future years. That presents a challenge for bidders, since local media rights are typically a core revenue stream for MLB teams. At least one potential bidder previously dropped out due to that ambiguity. Other challenges include the Nationals having a reported $500M in debt and a roster without star power following the trade of RF Juan Soto to the Padres in August. Sources said that the death of patriarch Ted Lerner last month has not impacted the family’s plans to sell. A source with knowledge of the sale process said the Lerner family had been hoping for a league-record sale price, surpassing the $2.4B Steve Cohen agreed to pay for the Mets in late 2020.


Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said that the purchase of Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry’s 25% stake is “still weeks away from NBA approval so they didn’t want to get into specifics,” but did say that Bucks co-owner Wes Edens would “assume governorship of the team while the Haslam Sports Group learns the NBA business,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jimmy Haslam said, “We never thought we'd own 10% of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Never thought we'd own the Browns. … So it's just opportunistic.” He added, “It was [a] straightened set of circumstances; we were called on this opportunity. Business, sports, you tend to be optimistic. I have no idea what will happen next”.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that there has been “progress made toward striking a new collective bargaining agreement” with the NBPA and that he can “‘foresee’ a potential new deal being agreed upon between now and the deadline to opt out of the current agreement,” according to ESPN. Silver said, “If we don't have the deal done soon, the next real deadline is June 30, but that's the very end of the season. The whole idea behind these early deadlines is to try to avoid going right up to the line.” Silver said that the league and the union were “going to continue negotiating, in the hopes of getting a deal done by the end of the week" but also noted that there was a still a "gap" between the two sides. Sources said that there is a “similar level of optimism about the state of talks” from the NBPA’s side and they “shared hope a deal could be struck by Friday evening.” However, there is a “key disagreement over how things would proceed if there is not an agreement by the time the deadline passes Friday.” When asked what would happen if the league and NBPA do not come to an agreement, Silver said that it “would be the NBA's intention to opt out of the current agreement.” NBPA Exec Dir Tamika Tremaglio issued a statement that the union was “disappointed to see Silver say the league planned on opting out and that the union had no intention of doing so.” Sources on both sides “stressed there is optimism about the talks and that significant progress has been made”.


The Premier League has "toughened its takeover rules" so that anyone sanctioned by the U.K. government over human rights abuses will be "unable to be an owner or director of a top-flight club." The updated rules, which will be applied to existing club directors annually, "would block states, individuals or politicians sanctioned over their human rights records from taking over or running clubs." The human rights check "would not affect Saudi Arabia’s ownership of Newcastle United, nor any takeover related to Qatar’s rulers," because neither of those countries nor their leaders are on the U.K. government’s list of people or entities sanctioned for human rights abuses. A new rule which is "likely to be more hard-hitting is that individuals can be blocked from owning clubs or being a director if they are under investigation for behaviour that would disqualify them" -- such as criminal activity or insolvency events. The moves "mirror many of the proposals contained in the government’s white paper for an independent football regulator". The Premier League reportedly "rejected Netflix’s proposal to make a Drive To Survive-style documentary series about the 20 clubs." The proposal by Netflix was put to the clubs in September. The concept "had attracted some opposition from Sky," which would have "been keen to have the chance to bid on such a proposal given Sky Sports 30-year relationship with the Premier League". Meanwhile, Premier League clubs are "set to agree to ban gambling companies from advertising" on the front of their jerseys. Under the proposal, front-of-shirt sponsorship by betting firms "would be banned" but sleeve deals would still be permitted. It is expected that the clubs will "support the move in order to avoid government legislation" banning gambling advertising completely. A final vote on the ban "may be put off" until the league's summer meeting in June but it is thought that "enough clubs will back the plan if a three-year transition period is included".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; USA Today; The Athletic;; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Washington Times; London Times

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