MARSEILLE: Frank McCourt, the former owner of Major League Baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers, has pledged to return Marseille back up among the elite of European football after completing a takeover deal for the French Ligue 1 club.

The 63-year-old United States businessman completed the deal in Paris after exclusive discussions to buy Marseille from owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus on August 29.

The agreement is reportedly worth €45m and following the official announcement of the takeover on Monday evening McCourt told French newspaper L’Equipe that he planned to invest “€200m over the next four years” in the club.

Louis-Dreyfus took control of Marseille after the death of her husband Robert in 2009. Marseille won the last of its nine Ligue 1 titles in 2009-10, but has struggled of late, finishing 13th last season and currently sitting 12th in the table.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus was the businessman whose initial loan to the 2006 German World Cup bid committee has led to controversy which has former DFB officials facing FIFA ethics investigation.

‘New chapter’

In a statement, McCourt said: “Today opens a new chapter in the great history of Olympique de Marseille. A chapter of which I am proud and honoured to be a part. I have no doubt that the challenges OM had to face on the field and off had a negative impact on the fans of the club in recent years.

“Despite the difficulties, fans have been loyal and provided steadfast support, demonstrating the power of sport and the affection they have for our club.”

He added: “As guarantor of the unity of OM, it is now my duty to raise ourselves to the highest ranks of European football. It is an obligation. We have a clear vision of success and an ambitious plan to achieve it. We have the resources and courage to invest and take decisions and necessary measures.”

McCourt sold the Dodgers for a record $2bn (€1.8bn) in 2012, having held control of the franchise since 2004. He remains the owner of the Los Angeles Marathon and in 2014 took a 50 per cent stake in the Global Champions Tour show jumping series.