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Chargers hint strongly at litigation to keep Rams out of L.A.


Last Monday, Rams owner Stan Kroenke broke years of silence regarding the future of his franchise by saying that he’ll be building a stadium in L.A. Which means he’ll be moving the Rams there. If he can.

The Chargers believe Kroenke shouldn’t be allowed to move the Rams to L.A. They haven’t reiterated that position publicly since last Monday, but someone from the organization has said so privately.

“The Rams voluntarily left the Los Angeles and Orange County markets, and some owners may question whether they deserve to return -- especially if it means that the stadium situations of the two California teams remain unresolved,” an unnamed team official told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal.

That won’t matter if Kroenke eventually can get 24 total votes supporting a move. Or whether he decides to defy his partners and move without the NFL’s blessing, sparking a potential legal challenge to the obvious antitrust implications that arise when few as nine distinct businesses try to restrict the activities of another separate business.

“The Chargers are continuing to work hard to find a solution in San Diego, but the team also has a close eye on developments in L.A.,” the unnamed team official said. “It would be irresponsible for the Chargers not to be taking every possible step to protect the future of the franchise.”

“Every possible step” potentially encompasses a wide variety of strategies and tactics. And litigation could be inevitable.

The unnamed Chargers official also “went there” regarding the potential impact of a legal battle over relocation on the currently-embattled league office.

“A move by the Rams would generate significant political and legal controversy for an NFL Commissioner [Roger Goodell] who is already bedraggled and besieged on various fronts,” the unnamed Chargers official said.

Whether a threat or a promise, the Chargers have made it clear that they won’t go quietly if the Rams are permitted to go back to L.A. And that once the pin is pulled, the shrapnel could fly all the way to 345 Park Avenue.