US tycoon step nearer Marseille takeover

Paris (AFP) – American tycoon Frank McCourt held “constructive” informal talks with the French league’s financial watchdog (DNCG) on Monday in the latest step towards completing his purchase of Marseille.

The former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers — his time there was deeply controversial — was upbeat after the meeting in Paris, which came less than 24 hours after he watched his future employees eke out a drab 0-0 draw with Lyon at the Stade Velodrome.

“The meeting is confidential of course but I can say it was very constructive,” the 63-year-old Boston-born McCourt said afterwards.

“The DNCG asked many good questions, we answered them thoroughly and correctly and now we look forward to the next step.”

McCourt entered into exclusive discussions to buy Marseille from owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus on August 29.

Sources close to Louis-Dreyfus said then that the deal would be concluded within one to three months.

McCourt said it had been important for him to meet the DNCG in person.

“I wanted to answer questions directly and introduce myself,” he explained.

“It’s a logical step (towards becoming Marseille’s new owner) and a very important step, so we look forward to the next step.”

McCourt refused to be drawn on his thoughts of Marseille’s uninspiring stalemate on Sunday night when they failed to muster a single shot on target.

“Well… the effort is there for sure, I’m not commenting on the team for the moment until I own the team.”

If the Marseille deal goes through — which now seems likely — McCourt will become the latest American tycoon to take control of a European football club after Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Roma all have US owners. 

McCourt’s turbulent eight-year Dodgers’ reign was marked by friction with Major League Baseball, who eventually seized control with commissioner Bud Selig citing “deep concerns regarding the finances and operations” of the team. 

With McCourt struggling to meet the Dodgers’ payroll demands, the team filed for bankruptcy protection. The beginning of the end came in November 2011, when McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers in a process supervised by a federal bankruptcy court judge. 

On the pitch during McCourt’s 2004-2011 tenure the Dodgers reached the playoffs four times but never progressed past the second round.

He remains the owner of the successful Los Angeles Marathon and in 2014 took a 50 percent stake in the Global Champions Tour show jumping series.

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