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PE firms eyeing potential NFL gains

The private equity sector has its sights set on the US National Football League (NFL), with several firms quietly preparing funds that would exclusively make NFL investments to comply with potential ownership pre-conditions, according to a report by the Financial Times.

The report cites three unnamed people briefed on the matter as revealing that a special committee of NFL owners has been reviewing ownership policy since last summer. One of the requirements under consideration is that firms looking to acquire stakes in franchises must do so via NFL-specific funds.

According to the FT’s sources, at least two PE firms have already started gauging investor interest in NFL funds, as American football edges towards following in the footsteps of baseball, ice hockey and soccer, in opening up to institutional investment.

Current NFL owners – the richest group of sports owners in the US – are widely expected to give the go-ahead as early as next month, although they are reportedly still debating the structure of the funds and specific restrictions that would be placed on investors.

The 32 NFL franchises currently benefit from an 11-year, $110bn media rights deal, while last year’s $6bn sale of the Washington Commanders to Apollo Global Management’s Co-Founder Josh Harris retains the record for the most expensive sports team sale.

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