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Bud Selig rejects Dodgers TV contract, nullifying McCourt divorce deal

Team is closer than ever to a change in ownership after Commissioner Bud Selig says the team's proposed TV contract with Fox diverted 'Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt.'

June 21, 2011|By Bill Shaikin and David Wharton

McCourt could also file for bankruptcy and try to persuade the bankruptcy judge to order implementation of the Fox deal. But that would require overcoming MLB bylaws that allow the commissioner to seize any team whose owner files for bankruptcy.

Frank McCourt is prepared to argue that, even if MLB were to seize the Dodgers, the stadium and surrounding land would belong to him because he has divided the assets into separate entities, according to a person familiar with McCourt's thinking. That position, which could deprive a new owner of millions in annual revenue, is disputed by MLB.

Referring to the Dodgers' television rights as "our asset," McCourt has previously said that it would be "un-American" to deny him control of that asset and alleged that Selig was withholding approval as a means to force a sale.

"It is not appropriate for one party's property to be seized by another party just because they got divorced or for some arbitrary reason," McCourt said.

On Monday, Selig did not seem convinced by McCourt's argument that the Fox deal had been structured in accordance with MLB guidelines.

"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," the commissioner said in his statement. "This transaction would not accomplish these goals."

The Dodgers' current contract with Fox expires in 2013. If the team is sold before then, a new owner could leverage a long-term Fox offer against a potential offer from the new Time Warner/Lakers channel and the possibility of starting a team-owned Dodgers cable channel.

McCourt had explored a "DTV: Dodger Television" channel, but more immediate money from Fox took priority.

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