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Frank McCourt versus Fox: He's running out of partners to turn on

September 21, 2011 |  6:29 am

Mccourt_640 Ah, yes, the Backers of Frank McCourt Club. Membership is what you might call in decline.

Seems it just doesn't pay to be an ally of McCourt, though it certainly can prove costly. The first, and possibly last, to back McCourt was Fox.

Fox, which sold him the Dodgers, which floated him the loan to finance nearly half the purchase, which advanced him $25 million this winter when he was in trouble, which gave him a personal loan of $30 million in the spring to make payroll and which offered him a $3-billion TV rights deal in an effort to let him keep the team.

So guess which company McCourt is trying to shaft now?

Whoever first said "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" apparently never met McCourt. But then, friends, enemies -- to some, they can all seem the same.

Fox currently has a TV rights deal with the Dodgers that has two more years to run. The contract stipulates a 45-day window at the end of next year as an exclusive negotiating period for the next contract.

But McCourt, mired in bankruptcy, needs money now to pay for his financial sins. So he has asked the court to void the current contract and approve reselling those TV rights this fall. And if he is unable to reach an agreement with Fox, he wants the rights to be auctioned off.

Isn't that swell? And thanks for all your years of support.

At this rate, it's going to get pretty lonely in that little one-bedroom place at the Montage that McCourt currently calls home.

McCourt, of course, has his reasons. Reasons like, what else am I going to do?

After his TV deal with Fox was rejected by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, McCourt took the Dodgers into bankruptcy, where his only lifeline remains ... a TV deal! So despite the years of support -– or some might say propping up -– McCourt figures he has no choice but to go this route.

And if it means turning on about the only entity left on Earth that had been supporting you, what's a completely desperate businessman to do?

Fox doesn't figure to take this forsaken routine quietly. If the Dodgers do walk away from the contract, Fox is expected to sue for damages. What a shocker, McCourt in a lawsuit. And really, if Fox then did not want to honor the next two years of the deal, how could the court force it to carry on?

Of course, it is absolutely impossible to feel one scintilla of sympathy for Fox, which has foisted the McCourt ownership on Los Angeles from Day One. Sleep with the devil, lose your soul.

But now the days of Fox being the supportive McCourt business partner are officially over. Fox, just one more former McCourt backer. Now there's a big club.

-- Steve Dilbeck


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Photo: Frank McCourt. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times