May 23, 2024 - Business

NFL owners punt on private equity ownership vote

Animated illustration of an old-timey cash register, with four tabs with footballs on them popping up.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

National Football League have chosen not to vote on a proposal to allow private equity investment in franchises, although negotiations are continuing.

Why it matters: The NFL is the last major U.S. sports league to eschew private equity, with even college sports cashing in.

The latest: NFL owners did make headway during their two-day annual meeting, working toward an NBA-type structure whereby a handful of private equity firms would have pre-approval to buy minority stakes.

  • Expect a lot of the same names that already have been active in the NBA and English Premier League, but that sovereign wealth funds wouldn't be part of an initial cohort.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he would "expect there to be something by the end of the year."
  • Owners did agree to increase the amount of debt that can be used to finance a team acquisition to $1.4 billion from $1.2 billion.

The bottom line: Private equity will come to the NFL, but with a delayed kickoff.

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