The NFL put off a decision on the sale of the Washington Redskins to Howard and Edward Milstein and Dan Snyder until April.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Wednesday said there were not enough votes to approve the $800 million offer that was accepted by the trustees of Jack Kent Cooke's estate in January. The league will hold a special meeting during the week of April 5 and Tagliabue expects a vote then. Passage requires 24 votes.
"We're still struggling with the terms of the financing, and there was some feeling that a lot of work has been done under a lot of time pressure in the last week or 10 days," Tagliabue said. "We felt more could be accomplished if we gave it more time.
"There was nothing to prevent us from voting it down. This, we feel, is a reasonable thing to do in terms of good business management."
Also includied in the sale is the new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in suburban Landover, Md. It is the largest bid for a U.S. franchise in any sport.
Cooke died in April 1997 and his will called for ownership of the team to be put up for bidding. His son, John Kent Cooke, is the president of the Redskins and lost out in the bidding.
"We've been working in good faith, but the unprecedented price and the financing has to be put in place," Tagliabue said. "Everybody walked a long walk and we should continue to see what we can get accomplished."
Tagliabue said he doesn't believe the league's financing rules can't be met by prospective owners, citing the recent acquisitions of the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, plus the $530 million price tag for the expansion Cleveland Browns.
He also insisted it wasn't his role to support or oppose the bid for the Redskins.
"The owners are making a decision on who their business partners will be," Tagliabue said. "I don't think the commissioner's office's role is to say I'll side with this group or the other group. That is not the commissioner's job."
Howard Milstein and Snyder both expressed approval of the delay.
"It became apparent everyone needed more time to air the issues," Milstein said.
"It's important to make it clear the process has been very fair and we look forward to continue in the process of trying to purchase the Washington Redskins," Snyder added.
Tagliabue said the team will be run by the current administration until a decision is made in April on the bid.
"We were sensitive to the management of the team and it's need to be competitive," Tagliabue said.
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