WASHINGTON (May 24, 2005) -- The NFL asked Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer to explain Manchester United's relationship with a Las Vegas casino, a venture that could run afoul of the league's policies concerning gambling.
The request came during the NFL's spring meetings, the owners' first gathering since Glazer's $1.47 billion takeover of the world's most valuable soccer club.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said Glazer's acquisition did not violate the NFL's cross-ownership rules and that there was no problem related to the debt Glazer is incurring.
But the league, known to be skittish about any connection to gambling, wants to know more about a proposed resort and casino that would be built near Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium as a joint venture between the club and Las Vegas Sands Corp.
"The only potential issue concerns that reported Man U joint venture with the Las Vegas casino, what that means, and does it have any implications regarding our policies," Aiello said.
There is no timetable for Glazer to respond to the NFL's request, Aiello said.
The meetings came on the same day that the U.S. representative of Shareholders United, a group of fans and shareholders who oppose Glazer's takeover, wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue outlining Manchester United's connection to gambling.
The letter, written by J.D. Deitch, said that United has bookmaking stalls at Old Trafford and has links to a gambling Web site on the club's official site. The letter also mentions the deal with Las Vegas Sands.
"The issue here is whether the NFL is really going to stand by its policies," Deitch said in an interview.
Aiello said he did not know whether Tagliabue had seen the letter.
Several of Glazer's fellow NFL owners said they didn't know much about the casino deal, but they were full of admiration that Glazer was able to pull off the purchase of such a prominent team.
"I didn't believe he could get the job done to get that much control of it, but he's a strong negotiator," Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams said. "He's got the No. 1 soccer team in the world."
Glazer, who rarely speaks to the media, walked past reporters without comment.
"I asked him how much time he's going to spend over there, and he said, 'Not too much,' " Adams said.
When it was pointed out that Glazer's takeover has met with hostility among United fans in England, Adams said: "That's why maybe he's not going to go over there very much."