While the New York Mets, the Wilpons and Steve Cohen maintain their silence about the status of ownership changing hands, a source with close knowledge of the situation confirmed to amNewYork Metro Thursday morning that reports of the deal being dead are true.
amNewYork Metro reported on Wednesday that governance issues stemming from stubborn demands by Fred and Jeff Wilpon put the transition of power to Cohen on the brink of collapse.
There has been no official word from any party, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told Newsday’s Erik Boland that “my belief is there’s not going to be a transaction.”
Cohen, whose net worth was pegged by Forbes at $13.7 million, began negotiations with the Wilpon-owned Sterling Equities to purchase an 80% stake in the Mets in December.
Only in recent days was it revealed to amNewYork that Cohen was on the verge of backing out.
Jeff Wilpon wanted to take Cohen’s initial investments as the majority owner to build the club’s funds, but still make the final decisions regarding the franchise over a five-year transitional period.
The source confirmed to amNewYork that New York Daily News’ Deesha Thosar‘s initial report from Wednesday was correct in that the Wilpons were looking to extend the length of that phase-out period and their hold of SNY — the source adding that the television demands “added fuel the fire.”
Cohen’s potential abandonment of the deal could keep the organization’s current status quo intact. With the source alluding to a “cashflow problem” stemming from the Wilpons’ involvement with Ponzi schemist Bernie Madoff, a nightmare scenario for Mets fans would see the team continuing to shy away from committing top dollars for top-tier talent.
That could open the door for Cohen to re-visit taking over a majority stake of the Mets, but the source believes that wouldn’t happen any time soon.
The 63-year-old hedge fund manager and Long Island native is still expected to retain his minority share (between 13% and 18%) in the club. But unless the Wilpons completely revamp their offer and make it a more attractive deal for him, Cohen’s pursuit of taking over the Mets could be officially called off shortly.