A US bankruptcy judge rejected the proposed sale of the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wanted to move the club to Canada.
In a ruling issued late Monday, Judge Redfield Baum concluded that the June 29 deadline imposed by Balsillie for his offer to be accepted didn't allow ample time for the legal issues in the case to be resolved.
"Simply put, the court does not think there is sufficient time for all of these issues to be fairly presented to the court given that deadline," Baum wrote.
The ruling was a victory for the NHL, who had claimed Balsillie was using the court to avoid league rules.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said league officials would have to read the entire ruling before commenting.
Baum's ruling was also just what the suburban city of Glendale, Arizona, had wanted. Glendale had spent 183 million dollars to build an arena for the Coyotes and argued the club couldn't use bankruptcy to evade its lease.
This was the third failed attempt to buy an NHL team by Balsillie, whose company Research in Motion makes the popular Blackberry smartphone.
The case ended up in bankruptcy court when Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy on May 5.
He proposed to satisfy creditors by selling the club to Balsillie for 212.5 million dollars, a deal contingent on moving the team to Hamilton, Ontario.
The NHL argued that when Moyes filed, commissioner Gary Bettman had an offer from another potential buyer who would keep the team in Arizona.
They say several potential buyers have expressed interest in purchasing the club and trying to make a go of it in Arizona.