UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ New York Sports Ventures moved a step closer Wednesday to purchasing the New York Islanders from John O. Pickett Jr.

The company, controlled by Howard P. Milstein and Steven M. Gluckstern, signed a formal contract to purchase the National Hockey League team. As part of the agreement, the team's minority partners _ First Long Island Investors and Walsh Greenwood & Co. _ will sell their interest in the franchise.

The agreement is subject to approval by the NHL Board of Governors.

Closing of the deal and transfer of ownership is expected to take place within one week of NHL approval, which is anticipated around the end of the year.

Gluckstern, Milstein and their partners, who also include real estate investor Steven Ross and investment banker Daniel L. Doctoroff, signed a letter of intent to purchase the Islanders on Sept. 11. Upon closing, Gluckstern will become chief executive officer and governor of the Islanders.

Gluckstern is a member of the corporate executive board of The Zurich, a major Swiss financial institution. Milstein is co-chairman of Emigrant Savings Bank and chairman of Douglas Elliman, a residential real estate brokerage firm.