Haslam family, ownership group finalize agreement with MLS to purchase Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Federico Higuain #10 of the Columbus Crew SC runs after the ball during the match against the Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus tied Toronto 0-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS — Major League Soccer and Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, as well as the ownership group they are part of, have finalized an agreement to buy the Columbus Crew.

It was revealed in October that the Haslams were part of an ownership group working on a deal to purchase the the team.

This came after Anthony Precourt, of Precourt Sports Ventures who bought the Crew in 2013, announced plans last year to relocate to Austin, Texas, leading fans to campaign to #SaveTheCrew.

The city of Columbus and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued Precourt to prevent the team from leaving.

Now, nearly two months later the Haslams announced their intent to purchase, MLS  confirms an agreement has been reached to complete the deal.

MLS Commissioner Don Graber released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“After several months of discussions, we are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families for them to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and operate Columbus Crew SC starting in January, 2019.

While we work to finalize the deal promptly, we want to state publicly the tremendous collaboration and community support for Crew SC, which has set the stage for a powerful plan that includes a world-class soccer stadium – a critical step that will help ensure the club’s success on and off the field.

We appreciate all the diligent work from the Haslam and Edwards Families, the leadership from the Columbus Partnership, the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio, Precourt Sports Ventures, and all of those who have contributed over the past several months to create the elements that will solidify Crew SC’s long-term future as an integral part of the Columbus sports scene.”

The Haslams aren’t the first Browns owners to buy a soccer team. Former team owner Randy Lerner bought the Aston Villa FC of the Premier League in 2006 and sold it 10 years later.

Jimmy and Dee also commented on the deal Friday with the following statement:

“When we began exploring the possibility of keeping Crew SC in Columbus, the process started with an appreciation for the benefits a professional sports franchise brings to a region.  We quickly began positive discussions with Major League Soccer – the League Office and many of the League’s owners.

We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the Columbus community, as well as Crew SC fans, to help us efficiently complete and fulfill the requirements and deadlines set by Major League Soccer that will help ensure the success of Crew SC on and off the field.

Throughout our conversations, it’s been overwhelmingly clear that Crew SC belongs in Columbus, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement in principle to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and to operate Columbus Crew SC. As the stewards of Crew SC, we will always be focused on building a championship caliber team that makes the city proud, creating dynamic and memorable fan experiences and deeply engaging the community to make a positive impact.”

The Columbus Crew was one of the founding members of the MLS in 1994 and played the last 20 seasons at MAPFRE Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. They won the Eastern Conference in 2015.

More on the Columbus Crew, here.