Goodell Explores Possibility of Public and Foreign Investment in NFL Teams

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indicated the league is not ready to open its doors to public ownership.

“We haven’t made the move to as other leagues have to any kind of public investment,” Goodell said Thursday on CNBC, via Mike Florio of NBC Sports. “It’s something we’ll contemplate at some point in time, but we really like our basic model now where we have private ownership.”

Goodell’s comments are significant because Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which backs LIV Golf, reportedly has interest in diving in to other sports.

“NFL rules prohibit foreign investment in franchises. But rules were made to be disregarded when sufficiently profitable to do so,” wrote Florio. “So, yes, the Public Investment Fund (the formal name of the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia) can get into the NFL if it wants.”

Along with the LIV-PGA merger in June, the sports footprint of the PIF — valued at $650 billion — is growing. David Rumsey of Front Office Sports reported its investments include a majority ownership of Newcastle United, a 16.7 percent stake in the Aston Martin F1 team and the Saudi Pro League ($75M contract for Cristiano Ronaldo).

Even though the PIF holds an impressive portfolio, the NFL may be hesitant to revise its rules to allow it to buy in.

The Human Rights Watch recently said Saudi Arabia “is attempting to sportswash” its recent human rights record by investing in numerous properties.

Since accepting money from the PIF could cause controversy, that could be why the NFL is sticking to its format. Yet, at some point, the topic could pop up for the league again.


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