An official with a National Football League club said yesterday he is "very optimistic" that the Raiders will be playing their home games in Oakland next season and cited a legal precedent to substantitate the NFL's contention it has control of franchises.
Charles W. Sullivan, an attorney who is vice president of the New England Patriots, said. "We're looking forward to playing the first exhibition game in Oakland in 1980, against the Raiders and rewarding the fans there for their enthusiasm."
What if the Raiders show up at the Los Angeles Coliseum and notify the other NFL teams that is where they will play their home games?
"I don't believe they will do that," Sullivan said. "They would have to pay their players and they would have no teams to play against. The league is going to schedule the Radiers' home games in Oakland."
Among three legal precedents Sullivan cited as demonstrating that the league has the right to compel compliance with its constitution is one involving the New York Titans of the old American Football League, which was merged with the NFL with the sanction of Congress.
Sullivan recalled that the Titans failed to obey AFL regulations when they did not pay their players or league assessments.
"The league took over the franchise through bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District Court of New York," Sullivan said, "and awarded it to a group headed by Sonny Werblin, which became the New York Jets."
Sullivan's father, Wiliam H. Sullivan Jr., is president of the Patriots, but Charles Sullivan is held in high regard in NFL circles of its official thinking. He made the motion to have the league invoke its three-fourths-vote rule against permitting the Raiders to move to Los Angeles.
Sullivan noted that Lawrence Luchino, secretary and general counsel, is representing the Redskins at the league meeting in Palm Springs in the absence of Edward Bennett Williams, president, and Jack Kent Cooke, 86 percent stockholder and vice president.
Sullivan said there has been no discussion at the meeting about club executives controlling teams in different sports, such as Williams of the Redskins, who owns the Baltimore Orioles.
Sullivan did cite a precedent relative to dual control. He said the majority owner of the New York Islanders hockey team -- Roy Boe -- also owned an interest in the New Jersey Nets basketball team and was using money from the Islander's profits to help the Nets, who were having financial problems.
"A limited partner in the Islanders complained," Sullivan said, "and a court appointed a receiver to take charge of the Islanders."
Sullivan said of the present conflict with the Raiders: "In my judgment, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold as reasonable our rule about controlling the moving of teams.
"If there was no rule, a team could move to Bangkok. There are precedents, and this is a joint venture.