NFL

Chargers co-owner asks court to force sale of team due to mounting debts exceeding $350 million, per report

The family trust that holds the majority ownership of the Los Angeles Chargers is in such a dire financial situation that Dea Spanos Berberian, the sister of controlling owner Dean Spanos, wants to see her family sell the team, according to a court filing obtained by the Los Angeles Times

The Chargers have one of the most unique ownership setups in the NFL. The Spanos family has owned the team since 1984 when Alex Spanos purchased 60% of it for $70 million. Over the years, Spanos eventually came to control 96% of the team and he passed that on to his family when he died in October 2018

After his death, his four adult children — Alexandra Spanos Ruhl, Michael Spanos, Dean Spanos and Berberian — were each given 15% of the team. The rest of the family’s stake in the team was put into a trust, which is run by Dean Spanos and Berberian. 

According to a petition filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, Berberian wants the team to be sold due to the fact that the trust now has mounting debts that total more than $350 million. According to the same documents, the trust is so hard up for money that it might not be able to pay out the more than $22 million that it has pledged to various charities. 

“Dean refuses to consider a sale of the Trust’s Interest of the Chargers, insisting that the Co-Trustees continue to borrow more and more, and to force the charities and beneficiaries to wait for years and to ‘hope’ while Dean speculates further on a football team,” the petition said, via the Times. “Dean has failed to present any plan to address the Trust’s bleak financial picture, because there is no other plan than the one urged by [Berberian]. Dean simply refuses to discuss it. … His plan is hope.”

Berberian did note that Dean Spanos at least acknowledged the family’s dire situation and that he promised to hire an investment bank in an effort to sell the team following the 2024 season, but Berberian doesn’t want to wait that long. 

“Every day that passes increases the risks that the charitable beneficiaries and the Spanos family legacy will suffer irreparable financial and reputational damage,” the petition said.

The financial situation apparently isn’t going to improve anytime soon as Berberian estimates that the trust is going to have an annual shortfall of at least $11 million. 

Dean Spanos responded to the court filing by saying that none of the other siblings are interested in selling the team despite the current financial difficulties that the franchise is facing. 

“If Dea no longer wishes to be part of this family legacy, the three of us stand ready to purchase her share of the franchise, as our agreements give us the right to do,” the three other Spanos siblings said in a statement. “In the meanwhile, the operations of the Chargers will be entirely unaffected by this matter, which relates only to the 36 percent share of the team that was owned by our parents. The three of us are entitled to three-fourths of that 36 percent share in any event, and under no circumstances will this situation impact control of the franchise.”

The Chargers were hoping that the team would get a financial windfall by relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles following the 2016 season, but even that move came with some serious financial consequences. To make the move up I-5, the Chargers had to agree to pay a $650 million relocation fee, which they are currently paying over a 30-year period. The Chargers’ move to L.A. was frowned upon by many around the NFL who didn’t think the city needed two teams

One name mentioned in the petition as a possible buyer for the team is that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. According to Berberian, “the Chargers could be a perfect opportunity” for the world’s richest man. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported in November that Bezos is interested in buying a team, so this is likely a situation he’ll be keeping his eye on. 



File source

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