After the Broncos’ record $4.65 billion sale to the Walton-Penner family, one of Denver’s AFC West rivals, the Chargers, could be next on the list of NFL franchises to be sold. That’s mostly because of a longstanding legal dispute that continued this week, when the sister of current Chargers owner Dean Spanos filed a lawsuit accusing her brother of “misogynistic” and “financially ruinous” business practices, arguing that the Spanos family has no choice but to sell the team in order to pay off its debts.
Dea Spanos Berberian filed the suit Thursday in San Joaquin County Superior Court, as ESPN reported, seeking sole control of the Spanos Family Trust that constitutes more than one-third of the Chargers’ ownership. (Late billionaire Alex Spanos purchased the team in 1984, and his four children, including Dean and Dea, each own 15 percent of the club, while the family trust owns 36 percent.) Berberian, therefore, is looking to control a total of 51 percent of the team, making her majority owner.
Her lawsuit also requests the court suspend and remove Dean Spanos as a co-trustee, accusing both he and brother Michael, the team’s vice chairman, of operating “out of their deeply held misogynistic attitudes and sense of entitlement as the men in the family.” The Spanos brothers, her lawsuit argues, “believe to their cores that, regardless of what their parents intended and their wills specified, men are in charge and women should shut up.”
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Berberian claims that Dean’s decision to relocate the Chargers from San Diego back to Los Angeles in 2017 has put the trust more than $358 million in debt. She also alleges that Dean diverted $105 million from the trust to various debts, claiming he manipulated the trust to borrow over $60 million “for the wasteful purchase” of a private plane “that has no legitimate business justification.” She is represented by Adam Streisand, the same attorney who helped Jeanie Buss take control of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.
Dean Spanos, for what it’s worth, has long insisted he will never sell the Chargers. But Berberian, who runs the family trust with her brother as co-trustee, has been angling for more control inside the franchise since at least last year. In March 2021, she filed a petition to Los Angeles Superior Court asking the franchise be sold due to mounting trust debts. Berberian’s sons, Dimitri and Lex Economou, also previously filed a lawsuit against Dean Spanos, alleging that he secretly diverted money from the trust.