In a ruling that appears to stall the move of the Oakland Raiders to Los Angeles, the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals today reversed a lower-court injunction blocking enforcement of the National Football League's rules on franchise transfer.
The decision reversed the ruling of a Los Angeles federal Court that granted the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission an injunction against the NFL. The League had sought to enforce a section of its bylaws requiring the approval of 21 of the league's 28 teams before a franchise can be moved to another city.
The Los Angeles court ruling granted the preliminary injunction preventing the NFL from using the section in connection with the proposed move of the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.
Al LoCasale, executive assistant to Managing Director Al Davis Jr., said today's decision had little or no effect on the team "because the judges did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit. The injunction was requested by the (Los Angeles) Coliseum and not by the Raiders.
"The injunction was based on whether the Coliseum would be irreparably harmed in 1980 if the Raiders didn't move and the court said they would not.
"Our attorneys feel the case of the Raiders and the L.A. Coliseum is very strong and is one in which we expect to prevail in the trial," he added. The case is scheduled to be heard in Los Angeles Feb. 9.
Pat lynch, an attorney for the NFL, agreed with Alioto that the immediate effect was that the Raiders would not play in Los Angeles in 1981. i
A spokesman for the coliseum commission said the appeals court ruling was "really meaningless. We are going ahead with our federal antitrust suit." w
The appeals court said the commission "demonstrated no real and concrete injury or even threat . . . when it sought the preliminary injunction."
The court, which did not rule on the merits of the case, said that the lower court accepted the commission's argument that it was likely the move would be rejeted.
But, the court said, the commission's evidence for such a concern "consisted mainly of an affidavit of a commission member stating he was convinced he could not obtain league approval; that two other team owners predicted the Raiders would not get the votes, and that one of these owners said the NFL commission was opposed to the transfer.