Report: Sale of Panthers to David Tepper getting closer

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The sale of the Panthers could be nearing a close, and the most likely buyer remains the guy with the most money who is already in the club.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, the sale of the team to David Tepper is close enough that it could be announced next week.

The league has long hoped to have things wrapped up in time to vote at the next owners meeting, May 21-23 in Atlanta.

And while there have been other bidders, and reportedly higher bidders, Tepper has been the favorite throughout the process. A billionaire hedge fund manager who owns a minority share of the Steelers (which would obviously have to be sold), Tepper has already been vetted by the league and has the support of a number of influential owners already. He also has more money than all the people reported to be involved in the process, which tends to be an important factor when expensive things are being sold.

But the process has not been without its bumps, as there were reports that Tepper declared himself out of the bidding (which proves that billionaires play poker too), after bidding in the range of $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion.

South Carolina financier Ben Navarro was recently reported as trying to lure Peyton Manning into his group, and is reported to have made the highest bid, in the $2.5 billion range. But there are questions in the league about his liquidity and his financing.

La Canfora also mentioned one potential clause in the sale which would require Tepper to pay an amount ($200 million to $300 million was posited) if he moved the team within a certain time frame. That would allow the league to offer an inflated number for the final sale price, which will come in handy at a time when many around the league think other teams are coming up for sale in the next few years.