Dodgers Reportedly Lack Funds To Meet Payroll Later This Month
The Dodgers "do not have enough cash to meet payroll through this month, potentially accelerating a showdown" between team Owner Frank McCourt and MLB, according to sources cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt received a $30M loan from Fox last month, which "provided funding for the Dodgers' two April payrolls and is expected to carry them through the first May payroll." The second May payroll, "due at month's end, is the one that appears problematic at this time." One source indicated that if McCourt were to "fail to meet payroll, the league would cover the expenses and would have the option to seize the Dodgers from him" (L.A. TIMES, 5/4). During an appearance on ESPN Radio 710 L.A. yesterday, McCourt "denied that he took more than $100 million out of the team's coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle" for himself and his ex-wife, Jamie. Responding to a question from a caller, McCourt said that he and Jamie "have taken a total of $100 million for personal use over the seven years since they bought the team in 2004 and that most of that didn't come from the team." McCourt acknowledged that he "would stand to make a considerable profit if he were to sell the team, but said he doesn't intend to do so." He said, "There is no question ... we would sell at a lot more money than I paid for it. It would be a big profit, but I'm not here for a big profit." McCourt admitted that "public sentiment has turned largely against him, but he blamed that on the fact that, at the request of his four sons, he has kept his public statements to a minimum during his divorce, preventing him from defending himself against a slew of criticism from the media" (ESPNLA.com, 5/3).
AM I THAT TRANSPARENT? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman reports as a result of the Dodgers' cash shortfall, McCourt "has offered full cooperation with monitor Tom Schieffer," appointed last month by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to oversee the franchise. An attorney for McCourt earlier this week "sent a letter to Bradley Ruskin of Proskauer Rose, which is representing Major League Baseball in the matter, to make it clear that Schieffer would have immediate access to all the financial material he needs for the ongoing investigation of the franchise's viability." Schieffer yesterday said that "despite McCourt's cooperation, it wasn't clear yet how long the investigation will take." McCourt has said that he "will continue to invest money in the team if he is in control of the business" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/4). Bloomberg News' Michele Steele said time "is ticking down" on McCourt. He has yet to decide "whether or not he will sue," though his reps "have made it clear ... he will protect his rights" ("Inside Track," Bloomberg TV, 5/4).
I WANT THE TRUTH! ESPN L.A.'s Jon Weisman wrote under the header, "McCourt Puts His Word Against Everyone Else's." The Dodgers owner "continues to tell us that all these people from every side of the fence, West Coast and East Coast, print media and electronic, sports and business, inside the game and outside the game, have it wrong." During his radio interview yesterday, McCourt said, "If the stuff that was written about me was true, I wouldn't trust me either." Weisman noted "neither the objective evidence nor common sense back up his assertions, but he asks us to simply believe him." McCourt's "interpretation of the facts are supposed to be more trustworthy than the facts themselves." But Weisman added, "In my view, McCourt is playing a shell game with the truth" (ESPNLA.com, 5/3).