By Mark Gallagher
Leave it to the New York Times to dig deep into the reasons that WFT owner Dan Snyder’s minority partners are pissed off enough to sue:
The bitter boardroom brawl between Daniel Snyder, the controlling owner of the Washington Football Team, and three of his longtime limited partners has prompted a legal firestorm, a fight over the club’s name and mudslinging among former friends.
But at its core, it is a dispute over money.
In the spring, with the future of the 2020 N.F.L. season very much in doubt because of the pandemic, Snyder deferred paying annual dividends to three shareholders who collectively hold 40 percent of the franchise, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.
The decision to withhold the distribution, which was due on April 30 and which the partners claim was made without consulting them, triggered a series of accusations that include financial mismanagement of the team and efforts to smear Snyder. The fight between Snyder and the shareholders — Frederick Smith, the chairman of FedEx; Dwight Schar, founder of a home building company; and Robert Rothman, an asset manager — eventually landed in the league’s lap, and an arbitrator is trying to sort out the dispute.
The behind-the-scenes jockeying hovers over the turmoil that has engulfed the team. After years of defending the team’s 87-year-old name, Snyder relented to pressure from Native American groups and some of his biggest sponsors — including FedEx — and said the team would be renamed. Ron Rivera, the new coach who has been trying to rebuild the team during the pandemic, said in August that he planned to continue doing his job through cancer treatment. Snyder hired a top lawyer to investigate allegations of sexual harassment made by 15 women who worked for the organization.