Former Dodgers owner McCourt pens agreement to buy Marseille

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."