The cost of Stan Kroenke’s decision to relocate his NFL franchise from St Louis to Los Angeles has been driven up by more than half a billion pounds but the Arsenal owner and league have avoided a high-profile court case by deciding to settle with the city they left behind.
What the settlement means for Arsenal, if anything, is unclear and it is not entirely certain that Kroenke will pay the damages himself by the Christmas Eve deadline.
That is the result of unclear indemnity language from the relocation agreement struck in 2016, which could now see the Kroenke family sue the league to avoid having to stump up the $790m (£593m) cost of the agreement, according to a report from NBC.
The NFL’s stance would be to pay the city of St Louis by December 24 and then charge it to Kroenke’s account – effectively withholding revenue such as broadcast funding until the cost is met.
But the Kroenke family are unlikely to accept that without a fight, leading to the potential of further legal action.
“The league’s position continues to be that Kroenke is responsible for the payment,” NBC say. “The money will be charged to his in-house account, with shared funds that otherwise would go to him, not going to him.
“The league has shown a willingness to consider assisting Kroenke with the total payment, and it’s still possible that Kroenke will litigate the issue based on indemnity language that apparently leaves much to be desired, opening the door for Kroenke to leave his partners holding the bag.”
The case had been slated for January 10 with St Louis looking for $1bn (£750m) in addition to legal costs reported to be in the region of eight figures.
“The NFL and the city of St Louis, St Louis County and the St Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority have been able to fully resolve the dispute,” the NFL said in a statement last night. “We appreciate the effort by all parties to reach a settlement and thank Judge Jack Garvey for his service as mediator.”
But there was no clarity regarding where the payment comes from and a dispute that was first launched in 2017 may continue for a while longer.
Kroenke had paid $550m (£412m) to relocate the team to LA four years ago having received approval from all but two of the league’s 32 owners.
A fresh legal wrangle over paying the city of St Louis would likely irritate his fellow owners even more following what ESPN described as a heated meeting last month in which it supposedly became apparent for the first time to other franchises that Kroenke had altered his stance in relation to the case.