John KeimESPN staff writer5 minutes of reading
The NFL has scheduled a meeting next month where owners are expected to vote on the sale Washington commanders for a team led by Josh Harris, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
The NFL sent a memo to owners saying a meeting would be held on July 20 to discuss Dan and Tanya Snyder’s sale of the Commanders to the Harris Group for $6.05 billion.
According to The Washington Post, which first reported the meeting, a vote was likely based on expected unanimous approval by the Finance Committee. A vote could take place in Minneapolis, where the owners met in late May.
The board has yet to recommend approval, but the fact that a special meeting has been set indicates the direction of the sale. Generally, owners adhere to the board’s recommendation. For the sale to be approved, 24 of the 32 owners must vote in favor.
Last year, for example, the board unanimously approved the sale of the Denver Broncos to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton on July 27. The owners approved on August 9.
According to multiple sources, there is a strong push to get the Commanders deal done and move on from Snyders before the season starts. That’s why, despite concerns about the structure of the Harris offer at various points, many were optimistic the deal would go through. Multiple sources said the Snyders are eager to complete the process as well.
Washington opens training camp on July 26.
On June 7, the finance committee met with Harris for 2½ hours in New York City. Later, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, one of eight members on the board, expressed confidence to ESPN about the direction of Harris’ efforts. At owners’ meetings last month, Irsay was adamant that the NFL would have to work to get the offer in line with guidelines.
“I’m confident because of their inspired aspect and their enthusiasm and their track record,” Irsay said after meeting Harris. “We’re trying to work through those final details. And I’m confident we can. I imagine the league meeting will be called sometime in mid-to-late July.” After that meeting, the NFL told teams that a possible vote would take place on July 20 or August 8.
Harris’ team includes Washington, DC billionaire Mitchell Rales and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — all of whom must be vetted by the committee and have extended time in recommending their approval.
The team has worked with Harris to get his bid in line with NFL guidelines. Irsay said there have been repeated concerns over the amount of debt Harris has incurred over the past two months and how much equity is in his offer.
According to NFL guidelines, a new owner cannot take on more than $1.1 billion in debt and must put down 30% of the offer. Irsay also said the league wants to work with Harris and Rales “especially from a taxation standpoint.”
“They knew it couldn’t be smoke and mirrors,” Irsay told ESPN in early June after meeting with Harris. “It’s a complicated deal.”
But Irsey and others in the league, including commissioner Roger Goodell, said they would not change the guidelines to accommodate Harris.
Harris signed an exclusive deal with co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder on May 12, surpassing a $6 billion bid from Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos.
The Snyders put the Commanders up for sale on Nov. 2, shocking the NFL — less than two weeks after releasing a statement announcing they would not sell the team. The NFL spent nearly a year investigating the work culture under Snyder before fining the franchise $10 million in July 2021.
But the House Committee on Oversight and Reform began its own investigation into Snyder in October 2021, a probe that ended only when Republicans took control last fall. Attorneys general in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia before 2020 alleged that generals from Snyder’s administration had committed financial abuses.
Also, attorney Mary Jo White continues to investigate the allegations against Snyder. A league source said the report’s findings could be released before the final vote.
Once approved, Harris will become the franchise’s fifth owner. George Preston Marshall owned the team from 1932 — while in Boston — until his death in 1969; Edward Bennett Williams was the principal owner from 1970 to 1974, when Jack Kent Cooke became the majority owner. Snyder bought the team for $800 million in 1999, two years after Cook’s death.
The team went 164-220-2 under Snyder. Washington hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2005 season and hasn’t won 11 or more games in a regular season since 1991. From 1971 to 92, they played in five Super Bowls and won three. They compiled an 18-10 playoff record during this stretch.