Bills owner says NFL stalling revenue-sharing talks
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson accused the league of dragging its feet on a revenue-sharing plan, an issue critical to the survival of small-market franchises like his own.
"Hey, listen, don't talk to me about revenue sharing," Wilson said Sunday following the Bills 21-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. "The high-revenue clubs are not going to give teams like Buffalo any revenue sharing. They haven't done it. They stalled it for years. And I'm sick and tired of hearing about it."
Wilson's comments came after he said the NFL postponed until January a recently scheduled conference call among league owners about the issue. And he predicted the next call will be postponed again until June.
The continued delays frustrate Wilson, who has expressed fears the Bills' long-term viability will be put into jeopardy without a fairer revenue-sharing system.
NFL owners approved the concept of heightened revenue sharing when they ratified the collective bargaining agreement last spring, extending labor peace through 2012.
Not resolved was how such a system would work to help the lower-revenue clubs.
Wilson is a member of an eight-owner NFL committee created to determine how to implement a revamped revenue-sharing system and which teams would qualify to split a proposed $100 million pool.
The committee's recommendations must be passed by at least 24 of the 32 owners. If not approved, the commissioner has the authority to make the final determination.
Some fear a deadlock could indefinitely delay the new revenue-sharing program. Wilson is now worried that large-market teams are attempting to quash the entire proposal.
"The way it's run now, and the present CBA and the so-called formula, it's going to be a long, tough fight," Wilson said. "Somebody has to step up, and I don't know who it will be."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment.
The Bills and Cincinnati Bengals were the only teams that voted against the CBA. And both teams were also the only ones to vote against the league providing $300 million loans to the New York Giants and Jets to help build a new stadium, which is expected to open in 2010.
"My new nickname is 30-2," Wilson said, referring to the Bills being part of the minority at league meetings.
Wilson said it's unfair for small-market teams to back new stadium projects because they don't equally share in the revenues the facilities generate. Wilson said it's doubly unfair to small-market teams because new facilities increase the salary cap, and the Bills are a team that can't keep up with escalating salaries.
The Bills, also by comparison, can't generate much more revenue in an economically troubled region such as western New York.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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