Trying to force a sale ChargersControlling owner’s sister Dean Spanos filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court Thursday. In it, she argues that mounting debt has put the family’s finances at risk and that the only solution is to put the NFL franchise on the market.
The petition from Dea Spanos Berberian, who acts as the co-custodian of the family’s trust with her brother, alleges that the fund’s debts and expenses exceed $ 353 million. Additionally, according to the filing, the fund has no plan to pay out more than the $ 22 million it pledged to charity.
“Every passing day increases the risk that the beneficiaries of the charitable work and the legacy of the Spanos family will suffer financial damage and an irreparable reputation,” the petition stated.
When the chargers He moved to Los Angeles In 2017 after 56 seasons in San Diego, they faced the arduous task of paying a $ 650 million transfer fee to the NFL and Build a fan base In a market crowded with college and professional sports. They now have a budding star in Quarterback in Justin Herbert And exchange SoFi $ 5 billion stadium With rams.
But the 156-page deposit raises questions about the future of the Spanos franchise since 1984 and reveals a family dispute that has so far been in private.
In a letter dated November 2019 included in the court file, Dean Spanos pledged to his three siblings to keep an investment bank at the end of the 2024 season in an effort to find a new owner. Berbrian claims the situation is too dire to wait.
According to the deposit, al-Barbari “tried many times and many ways” to resolve the dispute. This included mediation with a retired Los Angeles Superior District Court judge who did not work.
“Dean refuses to consider selling the guardianship to shippers, and insists that co-trustees continue to borrow more and more, forcing charities and beneficiaries to wait for years and” hope “while Dean speculates more on the soccer team, the petition says. “Dean has failed to present any plan to address the bleak financial picture of the fund, because there is no other plan than the one he urged [Berberian]. Religion simply refuses to discuss it. … his plan is hope. “
In response to the introduction, Dean Spanos and two of his brothers A statement was issued Thursday vows to keep the team in the family. They said that, if necessary, they would be willing to buy their sister’s stake in the franchise.
“For three of us, chargers are one of the most important legacies of our family, just as they were our parents,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, our sister Diya seems to have a different and misleading personal agenda.”
They added: “The operations of the chargers will not be completely affected by this.”
Adam Streisand, Berber’s attorney, declined to comment. Streisand previously represented Steve Palmer in his $ 2 billion purchase of Clippers and Jeanie Buss in a family legal battle cemented her as the controlling owner of the Lakers. A NFL spokesperson also declined to comment on the petition.
Although Forbes estimated the Chargers at $ 2.6 billion last year, Berberian’s petition describes the team as a “rare souvenir asset” and notes that “the price a buyer is willing to pay is often not determined by any economic metric.” The NFL recently closed massive deals for new media rights that could be worth more than $ 10 billion annually, something that confirms the deposit will “definitely attract potential buyers”.
The petition states that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who is estimated to be worth $ 180 billion, is interested in becoming a owner of the NFL, and the lawsuit states: “Chargers could be a perfect opportunity.”
For nearly four decadesFamily patriarch Alex Spanos bought a majority stake in the San Diego Chargers for $ 40 million.
His four adult children – Alexandra Spanos Ruhl, Michael Spanos, Dean Spanos and Barbarian – each own 15% of the chargers. Family trust controls 36% of the team, and the rest is owned by non-family members. After the deaths of Alex Spanos and his wife Fei in 2018, Dean Spanos, the eldest of the four children, and Barbarian were left as co-custodians.
The stake in Chargers makes up 83% of the fund’s holdings. The petition paints a bleak picture of its finances, estimating an annual deficit of $ 11 million with little cash flow or reason to believe the numbers will improve. The debt includes $ 164 million “linked to fund interest in shippers” and at least $ 75 million in real estate tax.
“Instead of seeking to liquidate illiquid assets in order to pay off debts and liabilities, and to make distributions to beneficiaries, the co-trustees were essentially borrowing, including borrowing money from one bank to pay another,” the petition says. “Meanwhile, confidence is so concentrated in owning a minority stake in a professional soccer team that the beneficiaries have little choice but to rely almost solely on the team’s rise or fall.”
The petition asks the court to order Berberian and Spanos to take steps to sell the fund’s stake in the Chargers and to invoke a trust act requiring other team shareholders to do the same.
Patrick Goodman, a probate law expert who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes the petition raises serious issues.
“The trustee of trust owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries regardless of how the joint trustees may perceive the assets emotionally,” he said. “It does not matter how attached the co-trustees are to the idea of owning a soccer team if that will cause the beneficiaries to lose their money.”
Dean Spanos has been in control of the day-to-day management of chargers since 1994. His sons have major roles too. John oversees the team’s football operations and AG heads the business.
“Dean is likely to assert that if he is only allowed to use his position as co-secretary to be a speculator … to multiply and triple bad decisions in the past, he can change things as there are positive developments in the NFL level that should benefit chargers as well,” As stated in the petition. “It also enjoys the support of other family members and beneficiaries (though not all of them).”
Before the shipper moved to Los Angeles – the transport led a columnist to describe Dean Spanos as “the most hated man” in San Diego – he kept a copy of his father’s biography in his office. The page was flips for quick reference. He emphasized the importance of the role the family played in his decisions.
The main passage said: “A solid family foundation: This is the basis of everything.” “Without a family, you will remain emotionally empty, no matter how amazing your accomplishments are.”
Times writer Sam Farmer contributed to this report.