You knew there was more to the story, and now we’ve got a report that goes into detail about what led the Washington Redskins three minority owners to try to sell their stake in the team, and eventually play a big part in the football team changing it’s name to...the Football Team. There are still a lot of things that we don’t know, and we might never find out the full story, but for now we’ve got a pretty big story from the New York Times that peels the curtains back.
.@WashingtonNFL Team’s Drama Fueled by Owners’ Fight Over Payout https://t.co/q9N1f7WyOe @WashingtonNFL @NFL @NYTSports @nytimes With @katierosman -- a boardroom brawl over money— Ken Belson (@el_belson) September 25, 2020
The story that the Times tells begins with team owner Dan Snyder withholding annual dividends from three of his minority owners who have been friends and business partners with him for decades. The reason why he did this is one of the biggest mysteries that is not known at this time. Snyder has been plagued by accusations of being a cheap owner since buying the team in 1999, but this is a move he had to know would cause serious issues, unless it was a reaction to other actions we don’t know about.
These payments were due on April 30th, over a month after the COVID-19 pandemic was really starting to shut everything down, and cause people to doubt whether the NFL, or any sport would be able to play this year.
The decision to withhold the distribution, which was due on April 30 and which the partners claim was made without consulting them, triggered a series of accusations that include financial mismanagement of the team and efforts to smear Snyder. The fight between Snyder and the shareholders — Frederick Smith, the chairman of FedEx; Dwight Schar, founder of a home building company; and Robert Rothman, an asset manager — eventually landed in the league’s lap, and an arbitrator is trying to sort out the dispute.
Dwight Schar’s company, Schar Holdings, began inquiring about Snyder withholding the payments, and not communicating with his partners. The company's CFO also requested financial statements, employee wages, budget projections, and “cost-cutting measures” over the last two years.
Still, soon after Schar’s lawyer asked for the team’s financial records, Schar and Rothman joined Smith — who had been trying to sell his shares since last year — and put their shares on the market as well. They, too, hired John Moag, a sports banker in Baltimore, to help them unload their stakes.
Their attempt to sell their stake in the Washington Football Team has been widely reported since this story start leaking out this summer. NFL franchises are always increasing in value, but most potential buyers are only interested if they can get controlling interest of the team, and that’s not something that Dan Snyder is interested in. According to this story he plans on passing the franchise down to his children. This is a bitter pill for Snyder detractors since the reason he owns the team is that former owner Jack Kent Cooke didn’t leave the team to his son John, instead making it available for bids which led to the current ownership situation.
Now back to the boardroom drama that has come out today. The minority owners tried to get Snyder to buy them out as they sought to get out of the Dan Snyder business. He did not take their actions lightly and threw all three of them off the team’s board. This led to the trio asking the NFL to settle their dispute, and it was taken to arbitration.
Now we enter the part that was made public, and that led to the Redskins changing the name they have had since the 30’s. FedEx sent a letter stating they would demand to have their name removed from FedEx Stadium if the team’s name wasn’t changed. Nike, PepsiCo, Bank of America, Amazon, and others soon took up the call to pressure Washington to change their name. Within two weeks Snyder announced there would be a review of the name/logo.
The final part of the story involves the company the three minority owners hired to sell their shares, the scandals that have come out this year, and Dan Snyder fighting for his life in court and the public eye. Moag & Co was hired to help sell the minority stakes in the team, but they were also allegedly promising that Snyder himself would be selling due to scandals that would be coming out. This preceded the Washington Post story in mid-July detailing the toxic culture in the organization, and then more accusations of sexual harassment, inappropriate videos being produced, and more. There was also an Indian internet company that published a story linking Snyder to Jeffrey Epstein which led to a lawsuit from Snyder linking it to Moag & Co.
In the filing, Snyder’s lawyers claim that in early July a representative from Moag’s company called a potential investor to see if he was interested in buying a minority stake in the team. The representative claimed that Snyder would be selling his shares soon.
When this person said he was skeptical that Snyder would sell his majority stake in the team, Moag’s representative said that Snyder “would have no choice but to do so soon thereafter due to negative information that would be released imminently,” according to the court filing.
What does that mean for the average fan? Not much. Dan Snyder will continue to be the owner of the Washington Football Team unless the 31 other NFL owners force a sale, or he passes it on to his children. We all knew the name change wasn’t some change of heart after decades of protests, and calls for change. It was about money, we just didn’t know what caused the sudden push from major companies.
Did I mention that Dan Snyder will continue to own the Washington Football Team until death does us part?