NFL-Commanders reach agreement to sell franchise to Harris-led group

(Reuters) – The Washington Commanders have reached an agreement to sell the storied National Football League (NFL) franchise to a group led by the co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Josh Harris, the two sides said on Friday.

Financial terms of the deal, which is subject to league approval, were not disclosed though reports in April said the agreement was for an NFL-record price of $6.05 billion.


“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, an area native, and his impressive group of partners,” Commanders co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder said in a news release.

“We look forward to the prompt completion of this transaction and to rooting for Josh and the team in the coming years.”

The group led by Harris, who is a managing general partner at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), includes Maryland businessman Mitchell Rales and Magic Johnson, who won five NBA titles during a Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In connection with the HBSE portfolio, Harris is managing partner of the 76ers, Devils and a general partner at Premier League soccer club Crystal Palace.

Outside of HBSE, Harris is the co-founder of asset management firm Apollo Global Management.

“On behalf of our entire ownership group… I want to express how excited we are to be considered by the NFL to be the next owners of the Washington Commanders and how committed we are to delivering a championship-caliber franchise for this city and its fan base,” said Harris.

“We look forward to the formal approval of our ownership by the NFL in the months ahead and to having the honor to serve as responsible and accountable stewards of the Commanders franchise moving forward.”

Snyder bought the Washington franchise in 1999 for $800 million and his ownership of the club has come under pressure amid investigations by the NFL and Congress into the team’s workplace culture and potential financial improprieties.

In 2021 the NFL fined the Commanders $10 million after an independent counsel review found the workplace demonstrated “a general lack of respect” towards women.

The Commanders said last November that Snyder would explore a potential sale of the team, one of the NFL’s marquee sides, which was ranked by Forbes in 2022 as the league’s sixth-most valuable franchise at $5.6 billion.

The following month the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform said in a report after a year-long investigation that Snyder both “permitted and participated” in the team’s toxic workplace culture while the NFL helped to cover it up.

The committee’s final report said sexual harassment, bullying and other toxic conduct pervaded the team’s workplace, perpetuated by a culture of fear instilled by Snyder.

The report also stated that despite the NFL’s knowledge — through its internal investigation — that Snyder engaged in tactics used to intimidate victims, the league aligned its legal interests with the Commanders and buried its findings.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Clare Fallon)