SBJ/December 10-16, 2012/Franchises

Sale of Browns owner’s Steelers stake on NFL owners’ agenda

Pittsburgh Steelers insiders are poised to buy much of the 12.5 percent of the team Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is selling, sources said.

The sale of the stake is on the agenda for this week’s brief NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas.

Haslam bought the Browns in October but has been allowed to carry his four-year-old Steelers stake until he found a buyer. His stake will be consumed by existing Steelers’ limited partners. However, the transaction, even though part of it will be voted on this week, will not fully close for a few months.

“The divestiture process continues and should be complete over the next few months,” Haslam said in a statement. An NFL spokesman confirmed that the “sale of an additional portion of his stake is on the agenda.”

In 2008, the Rooney family, which still owns the team, began bringing in a series of limited partners as part of a buyout of two family members who owned racetracks. The racetracks violated NFL ownership rules. Among the new LPs were Thomas Tull, Robert Paul, Paul Evanson and Bruce Rauner, along with Haslam.

The purchase of the Haslam stake is coming from LPs who have come in since 2008 and not from the Rooneys, sources said. The sale will not affect control of the team.

The owners meeting is scheduled to last four hours Wednesday. In the morning, the league’s finance committee also will meet, as will the head, neck and spine committee. The full meeting will include reports on labor, lawsuits against the NFL, and a preview of the coming postseason, said a source who had seen the agenda.

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