For those of you following the Wilpon/Mets/Madoff train wreck, there’s a fascinating story in today’s New York Times which suggests that the Wilpons’ legal problems may just be getting started.
The upshot: when Madoff got arrested, the Wilpons and Saul Katz were strapped. Coming to their rescue: as many as eight banks who provided them with financing on which Sterling Equities continues to rely. The Times talks to multiple banking and legal experts who suggest that, in light of the current lawsuit — and all of the ugliness it’s dredging up — the banks could do any number of things, none of which are good for the Wilpons and Katz.
Things like calling in their loans now, which would put even more financial pressure on them to sell the Mets. Another possibility: they could comb through all of their own financial records relating to the Wilpons searching for something — anything — which, in light of the new information we’re all learning, could be used to cast the Wilpons in a bad light.
I don’t pretend to understand the complexity of the financial stuff. But I certainly do understand the overall when-it-rains-it-pours dynamic of these things. We’d all like to believe that people will stand strong with us when things get bad, but when a scandal erupts or a suit gets filed people either run for cover, look for someone else to throw under the bus or both. These banks are no innocents themselves. J.P. Morgan, for example, has its own Madoff-related problems. You can bet that if there’s a way to shift blame to or share blame with someone else, they’ll take it. The first big conversation with the lawyers in any mess like this involves the question of “who else can be invited to this party?”
Every day the Wilpons don’t settle with the trustee is another day when someone, somewhere, will consider jumping on the pile.