SBD/Jan. 17, 2011/Franchises

Fox Reportedly Advances McCourt Money For Dodgers Expenses

Money from new TV deal with Fox could help McCourt settle divorce case
Fox has advanced Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt "money to help cover the team's current operating expenses" as he "mounts a legal and financial battle to retain ownership," according to a source cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Documents indicated that Fox owes the Dodgers $35M for TV rights this year, $37M next year and $39M in '13, but the source "declined to say how much money had been advanced." McCourt "has discussed a new television deal with Fox, one that would extend the company's rights to broadcast Dodgers games and provide him with the nine-figure sum most likely necessary to settle his divorce case," but MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "has the right to reject any such deal." Shaikin wrote it is "unclear whether the cash advance indicates the Dodgers are in immediate financial peril," but sports consultant Andy Dolich said that the "timing was curious, given that team expenses are lower out of season than during the season" (L.A. TIMES, 1/15). In L.A., T.J. Simers wrote McCourt's recent trip to N.Y. to "gather support from Major League Baseball has all the appearance of a desperate man." Divorce court papers revealed that McCourt was "more than $400 million in debt, more than $600 million considering long-term liabilities and now he's paying" his estranged wife, former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, "to stay away." McCourt also "had to borrow money from his brother and friends to make good on payments to Jamie." Simers: "Throw in an estimated $400 million that could be borrowed from Fox to start a regional sports network, and McCourt would be near $1 billion in debt" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16).

: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Edvard Pettersson reported Frank McCourt last week "lost a ruling over his objections" to California Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon's determination that the postnuptial agreement that McCourt says makes him sole owner of the Dodgers "isn't valid." Gordon in a minute order last Wednesday "overruled McCourt's objection to his Dec. 7 tentative decision invalidating the agreement," and he "set a Jan. 25 hearing to consider a final judgment in favor" of Jamie (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/14).
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