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Investors pressuring for Washington Football Team sale

FedEx Field

More turmoil in the ownership suite: minority investors in the NFL franchise are reportedly pressuring Dan Snyder on a Washington Football Team sale as a way to maximize the value of their shares.

Putting their 40 percent of the team on the market: FedEx CEO Fred Smith, Black Diamond Capital chairman Robert Rothman and NVR Inc. board chairman Dwight Schar. Smith’s dissatisfaction with the team and its branding is well-documented; when he threatened to pull FedEx marketing money from the team, Dan Snyder finally did the inevitable and dropped the Washington Redskins moniker, temporarily adopting the Washington Football Team name until a new name is set.

It’s been part of a horrible year for Snyder and the team. While things seem to have gotten off to a good start with the hiring of Ron Rivera as coach, things have done downhill since, culminating with the decision to play the entire season sans fans at FedEx Field due to COVID-19 concerns.

Why pressure Snyder to sell the entire team? Because the 40 percent controlled by Smith, Rothman and Schar is worth much more on the open market as part of a team sale than when offered on a standalone basis. Minority shares don’t carry much power on their own, so their main rewards are a valuation gain upon the sale and the right of first refusal should the primary owner sell their stakes.

Meanwhile, a split between the lawyers has spilled into the legal realm, per the Wall Street Journal:

The tensions between the parties have grown more severe in recent weeks. While the minority partners privately look to push Mr. Snyder into selling, a lawsuit filed by Mr. Snyder suggests that one of the minority partners is behind a plot to leak defamatory information about him.

In a Monday filing in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., Mr. Snyder requested access to documents from a former executive assistant for the team, Mary-Ellen Blair, as part of a defamation case he filed in India against an Indian media company, MEA Worldwide, which Mr. Snyder says slandered him in July articles that have since been taken down. The filing refers to an unnamed “financial benefactor” aiding Ms. Blair and says she had been seeking to spread damaging information about Mr. Snyder.

The basic insinuation: Blair was providing information to Schar, one of the minority owners. Lots of intrigue here.

RELATED STORIES: Washington Football Team to play at empty FedEx Field this year; Redskins rocked by sexual-harassment allegations; Redskins name to be retired

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