In talks to purchase the New York Islanders just a few months ago, hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway is now suing team owner Charles Wang for $10 million amid allegations that Wang backed out of a deal to sell the team despite a handshake agreement between the two men.
The New York Daily News first reported the lawsuit Monday, less than a week after reports surfaced that talks between the two parties had ceased.
According to court documents obtained by the Daily News, Barroway and his company, NY ICE, are suing Wang for reneging after the two men had agreed to a sale of the team for $420 million.
The documents allege that Wang backed out after hearing about former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's $2 billion bid to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from current owner Donald Sterling, who has become a pariah in the NBA for his racist comments published this past spring.
According to those documents obtained by the Daily News, Wang "abruptly refused to proceed to close the transaction and honor the terms" of the existing agreement and instead "improperly sought to renegotiate the already agreed upon price."
Those documents, according to the Daily News, say Wang tried "demanding" $548 million for the sale of the team instead.
"There is no merit to these reports," an Islanders spokesperson told ESPN.com.
Calls and emails to Barroway were not immediately returned.
This is not the first time the two men have been embroiled in a legal battle.
As ESPN.com reported in April, Barroway was once the lead plaintiff in a consolidated class-action suit against Wang's company, Computer Associates, that originated in 1998.
The suit, which settled in 2003, alleged that Computer Associates violated several sections of the Securities Exchange Act, including artificially inflating revenues and concealing the business' deterioration.
Although several legal analysts told ESPN.com in April that they found it bizarre that the two would later do business together, there was nothing to suggest anything more than an odd coincidence.
The league also didn't seem to take issue with the potential partnership. The NHL previously vetted Barroway when he became interested in buying the New Jersey Devils last year and found no red flags.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said publicly on numerous occasions this spring that Wang has kept the NHL abreast of negotiations regarding the potential sale of the team, but it is not believed the league was aware of any such "handshake agreement."
What this means for the future of the franchise remains to be seen. Although there is at least one additional deep-pocketed suitor interested in purchasing the team, a source familiar with discussions told ESPN.com that Wang is not being realistic about the value of the club.