David Beckham has revealed his plans to buy a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami as the MLS looks to further expand across the United States.
Across the Atlantic, football or ‘soccer’, as it is still unfortunately known, has continued to grow in terms of both popularity and participation, since the turn of the century.
And 12 years on from its first unsuccessful attempt with the Miami Fusion, which folded in 2001, the MLS is determined to revisit the Sunshine state of Florida with Beckham leading the charge.
As a player, David Beckham, who decided to leave Real Madrid and join LA Galaxy back in 2007, has done more than anyone to raise the profile of the sport in the USA. Having retired from the professional game earlier this year, he now intends to take the next step in his already glittering career – from player to owner.
Beckham, who was a vital part of the all-conquering class of ’92 at Manchester United, visited two potential stadiums and met with a fans group in Miami last week. When asked about the proposed franchise in Miami he replied, “I think Miami fans are very passionate about their sports and very passionate about winning… It’s definitely exciting.”
The MLS, currently consisting of 19 teams across America and Canada, and since its creation in 1993 (as part of the United States’ successful bid to host the ’94 World Cup) has continued to expand – having added 9 teams to the league in the last eight years.
Major League Soccer differs from other sports leagues such as the English Premier League, in that every competing team is technically owned by the league itself. Owners are therefore required to buy into the league and act as both investors and operators.
MLS representatives have also announced that they hope to expand to 24 teams by 2020 and even more recently, revealed that the Premier League’s own Manchester City have teamed up with the world-renowned New York Yankees, to form New York City FC, which will compete from 2015.
This deal, which was announced on 21st May 2013, represents the league’s 20th franchise and cost the two sporting giants a combined total of $100M.
The league now even claims to aim at becoming the fourth biggest league in the world, ahead of both the English Championship and Italian Serie A.
For those who questioned Beckham’s move from the pinnacle of club football in Madrid, to Los Angeles, six years ago, it appears there has been a master plan being carefully formulated beneath that perfectly coiffed head of hair for some time now.
It has emerged that Beckham had an enormous discount on any future franchise deal carved into his last contract with Galaxy, which will allow him to secure the reported permit in Miami, for just $25M.
And at a quarter of the cost of the aforementioned venture between Man City and the NY Yankees, Beckham will have little challenges in securing the further investment he needs.
In fact, it appears that potential suitors are already keen to get involved as reports have already surfaced which claim that 12 potential investor groups from around the world are thought to have touched base with the former England captain since the announcement.
In addition, it is thought that one particular Miami-based group has already offered Beckham a mansion in Coral Gables to use as a base in the suburbs, after it was suggested that Beckham is unlikely to uproot his young family again, now they have settled in London – and that he will travel to Miami only when necessary.
Recent studies have shown that soccer is now the second most watched television sport among 12-24 year old American males and David Beckham is all too aware of the gold rush he is joining, one which will only increase in value now that he is set to become involved as an owner himself.
When she sold her shares in Arsenal, Lady Nina Bracewell Smith pocketed £116M, David Moores received £88M from Liverpool, Martin Edwards £84M from Manchester United and Doug Ellis £63M from Aston Villa.
Moreover Thaksin Shinawatra, who ended his mere 15-month stint at City in 2008, netted a cool £90M profit for the sale of the club to the Abu Dhabi United Group.
While there is still a long way to go, and the franchise will require more than just Beckham’s face to become a stable successful team (like a stadium, a squad of players, a coach and fans).
It quite simply, rather represents the ambition of both Beckham and the MLS respectively, to take soccer to the next level, something for which they both deserve enormous praise.
And with Miami affectionately known as the “Capital of Latin America,” Beckham will be hoping to unearth a whole generation of players with a strong footballing heritage deeply rooted in their links with South America, which has produced some of the finest players in footballing history.
While we must all wait and see whether ‘Golden Balls’ really has the Midas touch in the boardroom, Becks now seems to have firmly set his sights on the future of the MLS and as many Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, LA Galaxy and England fans will tell you, he’s got pretty decent aim.
Various famous sportsmen before Beckham have made the transition from player to owner. What do you think are the greatest advantages of having an owner like Beckham?