LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has rejected a proposed television deal between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Fox that voids a recent settlement between team owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt.
Selig issued the following statement Monday regarding the Los Angeles Dodgers’ proposed media rights deal:
“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I have informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today in a detailed letter that I cannot approve the club’s proposed transaction with FOX. This decision was reached after a full and careful consideration of the terms of the proposed transaction and the club’s current circumstances. It is my conclusion that this proposed transaction with FOX would not be in the best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise, the game of Baseball and the millions of loyal fans of this historic club.
“Mr. McCourt has been provided with an expansive analysis of my reasons for rejecting this proposed transaction. Critically, the transaction is structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt. Given the magnitude of the transaction, such a diversion of assets would have the effect of mortgaging the future of the franchise to the long-term detriment of the club and its fans.
“As I have said before, we owe it to the legion of loyal Dodger fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future. This transaction would not accomplish these goals.”
The McCourts reached an agreement Friday that was contingent on Selig’s approval of a TV deal with Fox reported to be worth up to $3 billion. Under the settlement, Frank McCourt would receive $385 million upfront.
Steve Susman, senior partner of Susman Godfrey, released the following statement Monday on behalf of Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers:
“We are extremely disappointed with the Commissioner’s rejection of the proposed FOX transaction which would inject $235 million into the Los Angeles Dodgers. As Commissioner Selig well knows, this transaction would make the Dodgers financially secure for the long term and one of the best capitalized teams in Major League Baseball.
“For weeks Major League Baseball has consistently made public pronouncements asserting that Jamie McCourt’s agreement of the Fox transaction also was needed; that the Court adjudicating the McCourt divorce grant its approval of the transaction; and the Dodger organization provide all data requested by Major League Baseball to satisfy the so-called investigation ordered by Commissioner Selig last April – the latter also being the excuse he gave at that time for delaying his approval of the proposed FOX transaction. All the requirements for the Commissioner to approve the FOX transaction were put in place by last Friday: Frank and Jamie McCourt entered into an agreement based on the proposed transaction; the Court ordered, among other things, that the FOX transaction is “in the best interest of the Los Angeles Dodgers and should be consummated immediately; and all information requested by Major League Baseball under its so-called investigation has been provided by the Dodgers.
“Commissioner Selig’s letter of rejection is not only a disappointment, but worse, is potentially destructive to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball. Accordingly, we plan to explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to Commissioner Selig’s rejection of the proposed FOX transaction and our commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
The McCourts reached an agreement last week that was contingent on Selig’s approval of a TV deal with Fox reported to be worth up to $3 billion. Under the settlement, Frank McCourt would receive $385 million upfront. However, the settlement terms showed about $150 million would be used toward paying attorneys’ fees, existing debt and an account that would be monitored by the divorce judge.
The Dodgers’ current TV deal with Fox expires in 2013.
Selig said in his statement that he sent a letter to McCourt where “expansive analysis” for his rejection of the TV proposal was explained. Some legal observers have said that Selig’s refusal to approve the TV deal would pave the way for a lawsuit by Frank McCourt against MLB.
The McCourts have been embroiled in a contentious divorce that has exposed their lavish spending habits. Court documents show the former couple took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodger-related businesses.
In April, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of temporarily overseeing the troubled franchise. Frank McCourt has struggled to meet team payroll since the start of the season and without money from a TV deal, Selig could seize control of the Dodgers if McCourt doesn’t pay his bills.
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