Commentary

Frank McCourt is perfect owner for Marseille

By Paul Kennedy

Whether new owner Frank McCourt knows it or not, few soccer clubs have the history of French club Olympique de Marseille, or OM for short.

OM's first great president, Marcel Leclerc, who made the club a French power in the early 1970s, quit in 1972 after being accused of embezzlement.

The notorious Bernard Tapie went to jail for bribing players to throw a game against OM in l'Affaire VA-OM on the eve of its most famous victory, the 1993 victory over AC Milan that gave it the only UEFA Champions League title for a French club.

Businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who tried to overthrow Alan Rothenberg as U.S. Soccer president in 1994 after the federation dropped Louis-Dreyfus' adidas for Nike and was after his death linked to the German soccer federation scandal involving the campaign to obtain the hosting rights to the 2006 World Cup, received a suspended three-year prison sentence after being found guilty of involvement in a scandal linked to player transfers in the late 1990s.

McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, purchased OM from Louis-Dreyfus' widow Margarita on Monday, ending a long wait to find a successor.

L'Equipe reported on Monday that McCourt is ready to invest upward of $200 million in Marseille, and his purchase was hailed a coup for the club that, despite its rabid support that includes a supporters group named -- get this -- Les Dodgers, lives in the shadow of Paris St. Germain and Lyon, the two corporate giants of French soccer.

But as the Los Angeles Times' Chuck Schilken noted, Marseille's p.r. folks clearly know little about McCourt, putting out this statement:

“Mr. McCourt's leadership helped guide the team to competitive success which returned the team to its rightful place among baseball's elite organizations, along with tremendous economic success following years of financial challenges under its previous ownership.”

In 2011, ESPN's Sweet Spot blog named McCourt, who plunged the Dodgers, one of the jewels of American sports, into bankruptcy protection after his wife Jamie asked for a divorce, the second worst owner in the history of baseball.

The worst? Red Sox owner Harry Frazee (1916-1923), who sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

Unlike Freeze, it was McCourt's good fortune that he lives in the television age as he was able to sell the Dodgers to a group headed by Magic Johnson, for $2 billion. McCourt bought the Dodgers from Fox for $430 million in 2004.

2 comments about "Frank McCourt is perfect owner for Marseille".
  1. Albert Harris, August 30, 2016 at 8:55 a.m.

    Very droll, Paul.

  2. Bill Wilson, August 30, 2016 at 1:52 p.m.

    I doubt the supporters at Marseille have any idea what they are getting themselves into. They will learn soon enough and McCourt will also quickly learn that their supporters are a tad different than your average Dodger fan. This will be, if nothing else, a combination of sad and fun to watch.

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