SBD/Issue 131/Leagues & Governing Bodies

UFL Looking To Convince NFL To Take 30% Stake In The Upstart League

 

The UFL has been "actively trying to convince the NFL to invest in the junior league in hopes of gaining a valuable senior partner, as well as other investors,” according to sources cited by Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. The latest proposal, “which would give” the NFL a 30% stake in the year-old UFL, “is not on the agenda for discussion during the NFL owners' meetings” in Orlando this week. Such “a potential move was interpreted by one source as the NFL acquiring another pawn in the chess match” between the owners and the NFLPA when the current labor deal expires in '11. But an owner-based source “refuted that notion,” saying any investment in the UFL would be counter-productive to the NFL's collective-bargaining position. In addition to the 30% stake, the UFL has proposed the NFL will have “at least one seat” on the UFL's board and “a role in the football operations.” Sources “disagree on whether a deal is likely.” Both NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello and a UFL official declined comment. One source said that “the two sides had signed a non-disclosure agreement.” The proposed partnership potentially “would provide additional programming” for the NFL Network, which would broadcast some UFL games, sources said. A source added that if “there ever was a partnership, the NFL would likely use the UFL as a training ground for on-field game officials and possibly experiment with a variety of competitive concepts,” such as it did with NFL Europe (ESPN.com, 3/19).

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