UPDATE: MLS, along with the various other parties involved, released a statement that confirms negotiations are ongoing with the group led by the Haslams, but emphasized the fact that nothing has been finalized and much work is still to be done.
Nearly one year to the day after Anthony Precourt announced his intentions to relocate Columbus Crew SC to Austin, Tex., the MLS franchise is expected to remain in the Ohio capital under new ownership, according to multiple reports on Friday.
An official announcement is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET, at which time many more details will be made available.
The existing Crew SC franchise will reportedly be purchased by a group that includes the Haslam family — spearheaded by Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns — from Precourt Sports Ventures.
Joint Statement from the Columbus Partnership, Pete Edwards, Jr. and Dee and Jimmy Haslam on forming alliance to keep Crew in Columbus:
“While there are many details to be worked out, our alliance is working diligently and collaboratively with the League to keep the Crew in its community. We are very excited about the quiet but deliberate progress that has been made to date and will keep the community updated as this process moves forward.”
Precourt is still expected to pursue an MLS franchise — and a stadium deal — in Austin, only now it is likely to be an expansion team.
Ohio’s attorney general and the city of Columbus filed a lawsuit earlier this year in an attempt to prevent Precourt from moving the team to Austin. The lawsuit cited a law that prohibits teams which have received public money from relocating unless certain conditions are met. It was enacted after the (original) Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996.