Josh Harris bid for Commanders could require skirting of debt rules
For the NFL, rules are rules. Unless the rules keep the NFL from doing what the NFL wants to do.
When it comes to the effort to close the door on the Dan Snyder era and move on to someone/anyone else (specifically, Josh Harris), the rules are made to be slightly disregarded.
As explained by Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com, the league might have to ignore its own debt rules in order to approve the Harris bid. The move would allow more debt than currently is permitted in order to approve the Harris effort to buy out Snyder’s equity in the team.
Currently, the controlling owner of a team can borrow up to $1.1 billion, with the franchise as the collateral. Harris plans to add additional debt secured against other sports teams owned by Harris, including the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, and a portion of Crystal Palace FC of the Premier League.
The league has in the past allowed minority partners to secure debt with their own personal businesses. It happened, as Kaplan notes, when Snyder bought the Commanders in 1999.
The complication flows from the simple reality that there aren’t enough people who can raise the cash necessary to buy an NFL team, as the franchise values keep going up and up and up. With Jeff Bezos (who could easily pay the whole price today) not in the mix, exceptions may have to be made to push the sale through.
In this case, the owners would likely approve any deviation necessary to close the door on Dan Snyder, up to and including Harris paying for the team in change.