The commissioner of America's National Football League has called a meeting at NFL headquarters in New York to try and broker peace between the disputing family factions who own the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.
Yesterday, commissioner Roger Goodell met with Steelers chairman Dan Rooney (pictured) and his four brothers, as well as representative owners from the league, in a bid to start talks with the family and outline the NFL's requirements for any prospective sale.
Dan, eldest son of late team founder Art Rooney, wants to keep the 75-year-old team in family control while his brothers want to sell out, concerned about inheritance tax and wanting to focus their efforts on other interests, including gaming businesses, which conflict with the NFL's strict non-gambling policies.
Each brother owns a 16% share in the team. Dan and his son, team president Art Rooney II, are arranging financing to buy the other brothers' shares.
However, selling the team becomes more complicated than simply handing over control of shares to Dan Rooney or the highest bidder. Dan has so far been unable to raise the financing necessary to buy out his brothers at a price they deem appropriate. He needs at least 30% of the team's shares to comply with league rules governing majority ownership.
Any sale, which estimates put anywhere between $800 million and $1.2 billion, would be subject to approval by 75% of the league's owners. As Dan Rooney is an extremely popular and influential owner, potential outside bidders may fight an uphill battle.
Goodell has not called for any deadline for resolution to the situation but believes it will be resolved by the end of the year.
"There's great respect for the Rooney family in the National Football League, and we want to do everything we can to ensure the Steelers will continue to be operated by the Rooneys," said Goodell.
"I think there was a general commitment on behalf of everybody to get this thing resolved in a satisfactory manner. I come from a family of five boys too, so I understand the complexities of family," he said.
"They have a love for one another, a respect for one another. I'm sure they have differences, but I'm confident they're going to do what's in the best interest of the Rooney family, the Steelers and the NFL."
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