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Dodgers lack funds to meet payroll

Sources say the team can meet the first of two payrolls in May, but not the second, which would give Major League Baseball the option to seize the Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt.

May 03, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt does not have enough cash to make the team's payroll this month.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt does not have enough cash to make the team's… (Mary Altaffer / Associated…)

The Dodgers currently do not have enough cash to meet payroll through this month, potentially accelerating a showdown between owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball.

The cash shortage was confirmed Tuesday by two people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the possibility of McCourt filing suit against MLB.

McCourt received a $30-million loan from Fox last month, which provided funding for the Dodgers' two April payrolls and is expected to carry them through the first May payroll. The second May payroll, due at month's end, is the one that appears problematic at this time.

If McCourt were to fail to meet payroll, the league would cover the expenses and would have the option to seize the Dodgers from him, according to one of the people familiar with the situation.

McCourt reiterated Tuesday that the Dodgers' financial difficulties would be resolved if Commissioner Bud Selig would approve a proposed $3-billion television contract with Fox, which would include an immediate payment of $285 million. By failing to approve the contract, and by appointing a trustee and empowering him with financial control of the Dodgers, McCourt believes Selig has effectively seized the team already.

Rob Manfred, the MLB executive acting as Selig's point man on the Dodgers ownership issue, has said the commissioner does not plan to accept or reject the Fox deal until after trustee Tom Schieffer completes his investigation into the team's finances.

"It will be a thorough investigation," Schieffer said. "I would anticipate it would be longer than two weeks."

That could force McCourt to find outside financing to meet the second May payroll, surrender the team or file suit against MLB. It is "very unlikely" that Fox would extend another loan to McCourt, a person familiar with the matter said.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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