The proposed sale of the St. Louis Rams to Champaign, Ill., businessman Shahid Khan may still pass muster. But in the words of ESPN's Lee Corso, as cited by a member of the NFL's finance committee, "not so fast, my friend."
Before the sale can be approved by the full membership (a three-fourths vote of the 32 owners is required), Khan still must obtain the OK of the finance committee. And although most have assumed that the purchase from the Rosenbloom family is a done deal, the nine-man committee has plenty of questions.
Said one prominent committee member: "There's still a lot of very close scrutiny left. The committee will conduct due diligence to [the hilt]."
A native of Pakistan who has built his business, Flex-N-Gate, into a power, Khan faces questions on a variety of subjects: How will he reconcile the 40 percent stake owned by Stan Kroenke, who has a right of first refusal on any sale and has 60 days to make his intentions known? What about the lease at the Edward Jones Dome? Will the franchise remain in St. Louis long-term? And what about Khan's dealings with the IRS, to whom he had paid millions to settle a tax dispute (at least temporarily)?
Khan bid $750 million for full control of the franchise. Should Kroenke opt to retain his 40 percent, Khan's bid will be reduced by that much. Local businessman Dave Checketts, the St. Louis Blues owner who recently bolstered his bid by including Texas billionaire Gerald J. Ford in his group, will keep his proposal alive in case Khan's falls through.
For now, at least, that seems a sage decision.
Khan, a self-styled Rams fan who has attended many games in St. Louis and who likely will keep the franchise there, probably will gain control of the club. His bid is seen locally as a plus. But he is "no sure thing," according to the finance committee member, and there is a long way to go before a sale (expected to be discussed at the annual NFL meeting in March and perhaps the spring caucus in May) is finalized.