SBD/Issue 205/Franchises

David Beckham Committed To Staying In MLS Beyond This Season

Beckham Intimates He Could Head Back On Loan
To AC Milan In January, Then Return To Galaxy
MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham yesterday intimated that he will "probably be heading back on loan to AC Milan in January, and then return to the Galaxy for at least a few months, and possibly for a season or two" after next summer's World Cup in South Africa, according to Grahame Jones of the L.A. TIMES. MLS might be where Beckham, whose contract with the Galaxy ends after the '11 season, "ends his storied soccer career." Beckham Thursday will make his season debut with the Galaxy against the Red Bulls, and yesterday he said, "I intend to stay until the end of my contract and maybe further. I've always said that. I've always said, even when I went to Milan, that I'm committed to the Galaxy and to MLS, and that hasn't changed." Beckham added, "My family is happy here. The kids are happy. ... There are always going to be people speculating whether we're going to go back to England or Europe, but I can't say enough about how happy my kids and my family are here." Beckham yesterday also said that it "might be a while before a decision is made on where he goes in January" (L.A. TIMES, 7/14). Beckham added, "I've said so many times I'm committed to this cause and committed to this plan going forward. It's something I believe in." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "David is committed -- he really is committed. I believe he's committed. I could not and cannot ask more from David (in showing) his commitment to us." In L.A., Nick Green writes fans will "see, beginning Thursday, just how committed Beckham really is." Green: "Will fans believe him? And how should we measure his commitment to the Galaxy? ... Commitment is about more than just showing up. And let's face it, so far in MLS Beckham hasn't even done much of that" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/14).

THE BECKHAM EFFECT: USA TODAY's Billy Witz notes one question surrounding Beckham's return is "just how many will bother watching?" The Galaxy's home attendance is down more than 25% this season, a drop of nearly 7,000 fans per game, and for the first time since '02, the team is not leading MLS in attendance. Sunday's AC Milan-Galaxy exhibition game at the 27,000-seat Home Depot Center is "not yet sold out," while just 40,000 tickets have been sold for the team's August 1 friendly against FC Barcelona at the Rose Bowl. Galaxy President Tom Payne said of Beckham's return, "What's the effect? Are people over it? Will the Beckham buzz help us sell? It's all going to be interesting" (USA TODAY, 7/14).

BENT OUT OF SHAPE: In N.Y., Jack Bell notes SI's Grant Wahl in his new book, "The Beckham Experiment," examines the "internal dynamics of the Galaxy, casting an unflattering light on Beckham's management company, 19 Entertainment, and how it co-opted and outflanked" AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke. Wahl said, "I don't think these guys, the players or the league recognized how big Beckham is." He added, "Leiweke never accepted that the rules of MLS, with its hard salary cap, meant you can't build a European-style powerhouse in MLS. It's really next to impossible. Instead, he created this dysfunctional management structure." Bell notes with the "lion's share of its salary budget dedicated to a few players, the Galaxy had little capital for building a competitive team" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). Look for a conversation with Wahl in THE DAILY later this week.

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