NFL News: Jimmy Haslam will sit on new ownership rules committee

Last week, the NFL announced a new committee to review the NFL’s ownership policy, according to Sports Business Journal. The committee is composed of five owners: Jimmy Haslam of the Cleveland Browns, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Broncos owner Greg Penner, and the Committee chairman, Clark Hunt of the Chiefs. The committee will suggest changes to the NFL ownership rules ahead of the NFL owners’ meeting in the offseason.

The committee was formed in response to the recent sale of the Washington Commanders to Josh Harris. It’s rumored that the owners were unhappy with the number of bidders for the team. Owners were also reportedly displeased by Josh Harris’s complex bid structure. On the other hand, bidders found the NFL ownership rules extremely constraining.

Currently, NFL teams can only be owned by individuals, and the new committee’s job is to examine whether they need to broaden this policy to include financial entities. The group is reportedly interested in examining nonprofit foundations and Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, which would keep ownership between natural persons. The group is expected to recommend changes to the debt limit that an ownership group can take on to buy a team.

The committee could also recommend radical changes to allow private equity funds, including investment groups, sovereign wealth funds, and public companies, to buy teams. Across the pond, soccer teams are now mega investments for countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia and American-based groups like 777 Partners and RedBird Capital. It seems doubtful that the owners would allow such arrangements to befall the “real” football, but one can never know. While the owners use the business as vanity projects, the teams are still businesses.

The last time the NFL owners changed ownership policy was in 2018, which allowed NFL owners to own and operate teams in other sports. Many league owners took advantage of the policy change, including Jimmy Haslam, who helped save the Columbus Crew from relocation in 2018. Haslam recently bought a 50% stake in the Milwaukee Bucks. Jimmy Haslam has become quite the expert on sports franchises over the past decade. Haslam seems dedicated to Ohio and smaller market teams in general. The committee will gain valuable insight from him as I hope he looks out for small-market teams.

Story originally appeared on Browns Wire