SBD/Issue 98/Franchises

AC Milan Transfer Offer For Beckham Below Galaxy Expectations

MLS Galaxy Rejects AC Milan's
First Transfer Offer For Beckham
MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham will return to the team after his loan to Italian Serie A club AC Milan ends on March 9 unless AC Milan makes an offer that is "substantially higher than the one currently on the table," according to Grahame Jones of the L.A. TIMES. AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke: "We need to end the distractions, the circus and the zoo." Leiweke said the Galaxy "rejected" AC Milan's initial offer. Jones noted Galaxy officials are "believed to want at least as much as" the $10M that Spanish La Liga club Villareal paid the MLS Red Bulls for F Jozy Altidore, and "some reports out of England have suggested $20[M] as a more likely figure." Leiweke: "Clearly, if David's in a position where he wants to finish the season in Milan, and Milan in turn compensates the Galaxy so that we can suffer no damages to our fans or to our team, then we'll take a look at it. But we have made it very clear to them that we expect David back here March 9. They agree and understand we own the contract. They understand the only way we do this is if, when this is all said and done, the Galaxy benefits. ... As everyone knows, we've kept our mouths shut and stayed out of this because I didn't think there was anything to be gained by ultimately trying to negotiate with anyone through the media by responding to what people say David said or didn't say" (L.A. TIMES, 2/7). In London, Nick Szczepanik reports AC Milan officials plan to "increase their offer" for Beckham after the initial bid, believed to be $10M, "fell short of any figure" the Galaxy would consider. Milan VP Adriano Galliani: "At the moment we're very far apart, but there is a month left. Tim Leiweke decides for them. I write to him and he responds" (LONDON TIMES, 2/9).

AFTER SHOCKS: In S.F., Tom FitzGerald wrote the possibility of Beckham remaining with AC Milan is "not good news for the Earthquakes and other MLS teams, who had banked on the iconic midfielder to boost their attendance." The Earthquakes last season averaged "slightly less than" 10,000 fans per game at the Univ. of Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium, but the club averaged 32,972 in two home matches against the Galaxy, both of which were moved to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to "accommodate the crowds." The Earthquakes also booked both of their home games against the Galaxy for the '09 MLS season at the Coliseum, but, "in contrast to last year's Beckham hype, made no mention of him as an attraction in announcing" the schedule. Earthquakes Exec VP/Business Operations David Alioto said the lost revenue from Beckham's absence would be measured "in tens of thousands, not millions." Alioto added that "any Beckham losses to the Quakes would be more than offset by their recent sponsorship deal with Amway," and he noted that because Amway also sponsors AC Milan, the deal "might even lead to a Quakes-AC Milan exhibition match this year." FitzGerald noted the Earthquakes' two home matches against the Galaxy "could be switched to Buck Shaw with little trouble" since Earthquakes Owner Lew Wolff also owns the A's and has a "special relationship with the Coliseum management" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/7). In Ft. Worth, Tobias Xavier Lopez wrote the "rest of MLS clubs should be looking for compensation" from AC Milan as well, as the "only legitimate sellout" for FC Dallas last season at Pizza Hut Park came against the Galaxy (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7).

Writers Deem Beckham In MLS
Experiment Mostly As Failure
FAILED EXPERIMENT: In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan wrote Beckham playing in L.A. is "exactly the wrong way to develop serious soccer fans" in the U.S. It was a "novelty move based more on his tabloid fame -- something L.A. understands better than soccer -- than his on-field skills." The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Bob Ford wrote, "I've always said that there are plenty of soccer fans in the country. They just don't happen to be MLS fans. If the league is able to raise its overall level of play, people will watch. If not, they'll stick with watching the English, Spanish and Italian leagues on TV. One guy, however good, isn't going to make much of an impact" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/6). In Chicago, Carol Slezak wrote of Beckham, "His legacy? Fail, fail, fail." Beckham was "less than dazzling on the soccer field," as the Galaxy "failed to make the playoffs during his two seasons." Beckham became "just another Hollywood celebrity, living in a Beverly Hills mansion and dining at the Ivy." Slezak: "Instead of cutting down MLS, Beckham should be apologizing for wanting out of his contract and thanking the league for giving him a chance to play in the United States. ... After all, he failed in his mission to raise MLS' profile" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/8). In N.Y., Michael Lewis wrote of Beckham, "You get the feeling that the only selling he and the Galaxy wanted was the marketing of his replica jerseys." Lewis: "Two more words for Becks: Good riddance" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/8).

IMPACT ON U.S. SOCCER: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman wrote under the header, "Beckham Never Became The Savior Of MLS." No matter how MLS "chooses to sugarcoat the news" of Beckham's potential departure, it is a "slap at the league that gushed over him." Kaufman: "Has he had a lasting effect on the sport in this country? Not really" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/8). SI.com's Arash Markazi wrote Beckham's heart was "never really into leaving Europe behind and coming" to L.A. Markazi: "Then again, when you get dumped, you really don't have a choice in the matter." Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid had "relegated him to a reserve role," and "like most in that situation, he fell for the first person that came along and made him feel wanted again" (FANNATION.com, 2/6). However, ESPN SOCCERNET's Steve Davis wrote Beckham's tenure in MLS was "hardly a failed bit, as he certainly raised the league's profile in countless ways, which was the league's hope all along." Since Beckham joined the league, TV contracts "have been signed" and sponsors "have been added or re-signed." And the "always-important stadium initiative and expansion effort have marched confidently forward." Davis: "Anyone who thinks Beckham's presence didn't add to the coffers in a myriad of ways isn't thinking in business terms -- which is certainly the right of every fan. On the other hand, it would be difficult to deny that the Galaxy's meddling upper management sucked much of the joy from Beckham's MLS experience and played a huge role in his decision to ditch MLS" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 2/6).

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