Sale of Panthers, Richardson allegations discussed during NFL briefing

Sale of Panthers, Richardson allegations discussed during NFL briefing

(WBTV) - The NFL held a media briefing Thursday, and there was a discussion on several topics surrounding the Carolina Panthers franchise and the sale of team.

According to spokesman Joe Lockhart, the league is for franchise stability and feels it is important for the Panthers to stay in Carolina.

"The franchise in Carolina has been successful on the field, from the business perspective and as far as community impact," Lockhart said. "We think that it is important that franchises that have achieved success stay in the market that they are playing in."

PREVIOUS STORY: Questions surround future ownership of Panthers and impact on Charlotte

The league has some basic guidelines that are in place concerning the sale of an NFL franchise. This was discussed during the briefing.

  • A new controlling owner is required to individually own at least 30 percent of the equity in the franchise, in some cases they own 100 percent with small limited partners. The owner needs to be able to demonstrate the financial ability to both acquire the ownership interest and effectively operate the team over the long-term.
  • The owner needs to have full voting control over all matters involving the franchise and the stadium, including all football and business operations. Every franchise has to have an owner who votes in the context of league meetings.
  • Currently, an owner is limited a maximum of $250 million in total debt related to the franchise, the NFL's debt ceiling. Other debt is permitted beyond that debt ceiling, but at time of acquisition, that debt has to be repaid by non-football assets. At time of the sale, the acquisition must be paid for in cash or finance through debt that is secured in some other assets, not the franchise or stadium itself.
  • The franchise is limited to a maximum of 25 individual owners. A public company, or a non-profit cannot do it. It has to be individuals. All new owners, not just the controlling owner, must be approved through a three-quarter vote of member clubs.

During the briefing, Lockhart spoke about allegations surrounding owner Jerry Richardson.

Lockhart said that there was no pressure from the league on Richardson to sell the team, and that he came to the conclusion over that weekend that putting the team up for sale was what he wanted to do.

NFL officials reportedly found out about it shortly before the announcement went out.

The NFL has moved forward with an investigation into Richardson, and Lockhart said that the league is very serious about looking into the allegations.

"When an allegation is raised, we investigate it and figure out what happened," Lockhart said.

The league was reportedly unaware of the forced settlements that were allegedly made by the Panthers, and say that is an area that the investigation will consider.

The NFL expects full cooperation in the investigation. The Panthers are aware that the NFL is going in to investigate from outside the club's perspective.

The league has reportedly not had time to consider the possibility of the new owner potentially having to build a new stadium

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