SBJ/May 9-15, 2011/Labor and Agents

Filing gives look into NFLPA’s finances at decertification

When the NFL Players Association decertified on March 11, it had $135 million in cash on hand, of which $45 million was designated in a lockout fund, while another $50 million was held in trust for support of the players, according to a notice filed last month to notify the Labor Department that the union had morphed into a trade association. The $50 million, observers said, may be designated in part for legal fees.

The document also discloses a $4 million trust for player grievances. When the union decertified it lost the right to represent players in grievances before the NFL, but the document says the purpose of the trust is to “provide assistance to NFL players for grievance-related and other legal services.” There is also a $1.5 million trust to “provide permissible welfare benefits and support to NFL players.”

The document covers only the 11 days from March 1 to March 11. Labor unions are required to file annual reports to the Labor Department, so this is effectively the NFLPA’s final one. The NFLPA is scheduled to file an annual report soon for the 12 months ending Feb. 28.

The NFL is contesting the union’s decertification.

The 11-day snapshot provides confirmation that the NFLPA hired former Hillary Clinton adviser Phil Singer, as reported by SportsBusiness Journal on Feb. 21. In the 11-day period, the NFLPA paid Singer’s firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, $45,000 for what the document describes as collective-bargaining agreement matters. The report, or LM-2, also shows a payment to another public relations consulting firm, New Media Strategies of Arlington, Va., for $29,000.

In the 11-day period, the NFLPA paid its principal outside law firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, $104,325.

The LM-2 utilizes cash accounting, meaning the figures represent actual cash in and out during the designated period. So, for example, there is no listing of UBS, the investment bank the NFLPA hired to review NFL financials. But that could be because payments actually went out prior to or after this 11-day period.

In addition to its cash reserve, the NFLPA also had other investments, securities and fixed assets, such as its headquarters building, totaling $306.8 million. Liabilities totaled $108.4 million, leaving net assets at $198.4 million, a signal that the NFLPA might be able to endure a lengthy labor disturbance.

During the 11-day period, the executive director, DeMaurice Smith, earned $55,385. He has said since March 11 that he is not taking a salary.

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