Frank McCourt, the former owner of Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers, has struck an outline agreement to acquire French Ligue 1 football club Olympique de Marseille.
McCourt (pictured), who sold the Dodgers for a record $2bn (€1.8bn) in 2012, is in an exclusive consultation process with Marseille’s current owner, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus. The value of the deal has not been disclosed publicly, but RMC Sport quoted a figure of €40m.
Louis-Dreyfus, the Russian-born chairwoman of Louis Dreyfus Commodities trading house, said in April that she was on the look-out for a new owner for the club. It is hoped that the deal can be completed by the end of this year.
Louis-Dreyfus took control of the club after the death of her husband Robert in 2009. She will retain five per cent of the club, which finished 13th in Ligue 1 last season and has struggled to keep up with domestic rivals including Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, which have attracted foreign investment in recent years.
"Margarita and I just executed a contract for us to buy OM, the greatest football club in the French league and one of the best in the world," McCourt told a press conference alongside Louis-Dreyfus and Marseille mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin. "I'm very excited about making Marseille a champion again.
“We have a project we will build together. We will build a championship-calibre team that can compete year-in and year-out for the championship.
"Football is becoming the most visible sport in the world. We see it through the World Cup, the (English) Premier League, which has created a fantastic business model. I think the future of French football can be excellent. I'm very optimistic on this."