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Davis family will retain control of Raiders

Mark Davis

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis poses in front of the newly unveiled AirAsia-Oakland Raiders aircraft after its launch at Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s low cost carrier terminal in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, June 26, 2009. Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia announced Friday to be a sponsor of the National Football League (NFL) Oakland Raiders. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)


[Editor’s note: This item originally was published shortly after midnight. We’ve update the time stamp due to the relevance of the topic, and in light of the fact that the story will be promoted during Football Night in America.]

The fact that Al Davis operated the Raiders with scant information disclosed publicly regarding the ownership structure of the organization invites speculation as to the future of the team. Some, for example, already are predicting a flurry of lawsuits aimed at sorting out the various rights of the minority owners who allowed Davis to control the team.

The reality is far less intriguing.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, thorough and detailed estate and succession planning ensures that the team will be owned by the wife and son of Al Davis: Carol Davis and Mark Davis. They can’t be forced to sell by their partners, by the league, or by operation of law.

As it relates to the other partners, the team operates as a limited partnership, with the Davis family being the sole and complete owner of the sole general partner. Under the law of limited partnerships, that gives the Davis family full control over the business. And there’s no path to control held by any of the other partners based on the passing of Al Davis.

The fact that the general partner owns only a small percentage of the franchise has caused many to conclude that the Davis family owns only a small percentage of the franchise. That’s not the case; the Davis family owns significantly more of the equity via limited partnership interests in the team.

The question becomes whether Carol and Mark Davis want to continue to own the team. Mrs. Davis was married to Al for well over 50 years, and Mark (pictured) is in his 50s. They are a close family, and it’s believed that they have no desire to sell the team. Mark grew up in and around the organization, and he has a passion for the franchise.

The fact that Al Davis has only one child removes one of the other potential catalysts for a sale. If multiple children inherit a team and one or more want to cash out, the others may have no alternative to selling the team in order to raise the money to buy out a sibling or two.

In this case, the bigger question is whether Mark Davis will run the team on a day-to-day basis or entrust that function to others. He has had some past involvement in the franchise, and it’s unknown whether he intends to assume a larger role.

None of this prevents Phil Anschutz or Ed Roski or anyone from trying to buy the team. But the passing of Al Davis will, in and of itself, give rise to no circumstance that creates an incentive or necessity to sell.

Thus, if Carol and Mark Davis aren’t interested in selling, they can tell Anschutz, Roski, or whoever makes an overture that the Oakland Raiders will remain in the Davis family indefinitely.