Pegula family’s bid to buy Bills unanimously approved by NFL

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula took a step closer to buying the Buffalo Bills after their NFL-record $1.4 billion purchase agreement was unanimously approved by the league’s finance committee Wednesday.

NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman announced the result of the vote shortly after it was taken in New York. The approval clears the way for NFL owners to formally approve the sale at league meetings next month. The Pegulas will require three-quarters majority approval from the 32 owners, including the trust overseeing late Bills owner Ralph Wilson’s estate.

Terry Pegula made a brief statement confirming the committee’s approval, but declined to go into detail.

"As far as I can say, we’re not NFL owners until that vote is approved, and we’ll have no further comments," he said.

The finance committee’s approval comes a little over a week after Wilson’s estate reached a "definitive agreement" to sell the team to the Pegulas. The agreement was reached a day after the Pegulas were among at least three prospective ownership candidates — including a Toronto-based group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi — submitted formal bids.

The Bills were on the market after Wilson, the Hall of Fame team founder, died in March.

The Pegulas have begun preparing themselves to become NFL owners.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Pegulas have relinquished their involvement and are divesting their interest in Five Star Athlete Management, an Atlanta-based sports agency that represents NFL players.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Pegulas have not announced their plans publicly.

Terry Pegula acquired the high-profile firm headed by Todd France in 2011.

NFL rules prevent owners from being involved in firms that represent league players.