It’s not often that you see a team’s ownership group trying to undervalue their own franchise.
But that’s exactly what the York family is doing with the 49ers.
Because the heirs of the late Franklin Mieuli want to sell his small stake in the 49ers — just 5 percent — and the Yorks want to pay the Mieulis as little as possible. So, the Yorks are saying the team isn’t worth as much as some think.
Forbes magazine, one of the most trusted sources when it comes to assessing the value of sports franchises, puts the value of the 49ers at $990 million. The Yorks, meanwhile, claim that the 49ers are worth only $360 million.
At $990 million, the Mieulis’ 5 percent stake in the team is worth $49.5 million. At $360 million, that same share pays out only $18 million.
Mieuli’s heirs are crying foul and have filed a lawsuit that accuses the Yorks of doing “anything and everything to deny Mieuli’s heirs the full and fair value” for their father’s share of the team.
“Anything and everything” includes significantly devaluing their own asset.
For comparison sake, Forbes lists the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team with the lowest value among all 32 NFL teams ($725 million), and they were just sold to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan for about $760 million.
There is no way the 49ers are worth $360 million. The least desirable team in the league sold for more than double what the Yorks believe the 49ers are worth.
Mieuli was a legend in the Bay Area. He owned the Warriors for over two decades, a span that included their one and only championship since he relocated the team to the Bay Area. He also owned a small part of the Giants for a brief period.
Mieuli’s son Peter just wants to clear his father’s estate. He’s been fighting with the Yorks for almost two years. During the legal battle, the team has revoked the Mieuli family’s ability to buy luxury boxes and travel with the team.
The Yorks are making themselves look cheap and petty. Franklin Mieuli deserves better.
On second thought, let me rephrase that: The Yorks are cheap and petty.