If Frank McCourt cannot meet the Dodgers' payroll next week, Commissioner… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)
Fox would not stand by Frank McCourt if the Dodgers owner were to ask a bankruptcy judge to order approval of the television contract rejected this week by Commissioner Bud Selig, two people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The Fox position would "severely complicate" any plans McCourt might have to file bankruptcy as a way to retain control of the Dodgers, said Rob Kampfner of White and Case, the firm that represented the incoming owners of the Texas Rangers through that club's bankruptcy proceedings last year.
If McCourt cannot meet the Dodgers' payroll next week, Selig could seize the team and put it up for sale. If McCourt were to take the Dodgers into bankruptcy before then, he could retain ownership through the proceedings, but without the Fox deal he would have a limited window of time to find the financing he has struggled to obtain for the last two years.
"Frank would go in and wouldn't have an exit strategy," Kampfner said.
A bankruptcy judge could overrule Selig and order approval of the Fox contract — one McCourt says could be worth $3 billion — to ensure the Dodgers' creditors are paid in full. Fox would respond that it is not bound to the agreement since a contract has not been executed and it would not support the Dodgers' owner should he ask a bankruptcy judge to implement the deal, said one of the people familiar with the matter who is not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the circumstances.
Kampfner also said that, if the Dodgers were to file bankruptcy without interim financing to cover immediate payroll needs, the judge could appoint a trustee to replace McCourt in controlling the Dodgers.
Spokesmen for Fox and McCourt each declined to comment.