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Beckham's Popularity Complicates Contract Negotiations
Published January 23, 2002
David Beckham is negotiating a new contract with Manchester United, and reports suggest he has been offered US$100,000 a week, and another US$28,600 a week "for rights to use his image," according to Matthew Garrahan of the FINANCIAL TIMES, who called Beckham "one of a few players to transcend football and achieve popularity among non-fans as well as die-hard followers of the sport." The inclusion of image rights in players' contracts is not new, as Jon Smith, CEO of player agency First Artist, said, "It all started as a way of avoiding tax. Foreign players would come to the UK from regimes where image rights are not subject to the same sort of tax conditions, and ask for separate payments for use of their image." Garrahan adds, "What has changed recently is the importance with which players and clubs now view the question of image rights." HammondSuddardsEdge attorney Parul Patel said that changes to transfer regulations will soon "lead to clubs becoming more keen to generate the best value from their investments." Garrahan: "Hence the need to exploit star players' images and extract a good return from them. Luis Figo's [US$54.3M] move last year from Barcelona to Real Madrid is thought to have contained a provision giving Real a percentage of all his off-field earnings. This offers the club a way of recouping some of its investment" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/22).