SBD/November 21, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Early Speculations Are Beckham Will Return To Galaxy As Part Of Ownership

Beckham is considering playing in China, and Australian teams also are interested
MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham on Monday announced he would be leaving the league after the Dec. 1 MLS Cup, but he "may very well come back as an owner," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Given the "partnership he has forged with" AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, expect that to "happen here in Southern California, where Beckham's successful mission to transform U.S. soccer began more than five years ago." Beckham is considering playing in China, which would "allow Brand Beckham to expand its international reach deep into the world's most populous country, while the oil-rich owners of clubs throughout the Middle East will throw wads of money Beckham's way in the hope he can do for their teams and league what he did for the Galaxy and MLS." Meanwhile, discussions have "already begun with teams in Australia." His contract with the Galaxy and the league "contained a clause allowing him to become an MLS owner at a below-market rate, an option he has long promised to exercise." But rather than "signing on with an expansion franchise, expect Beckham to become an equity partner with the Galaxy, a deal that would allow the team to continue profiting from its relationship with Beckham while allowing Beckham to learn the management business from one of the most successful ownership groups in U.S. sports." Leiweke said of Beckham's ownership aspirations, "With David this is the right decision. It's the right time" (L.A. TIMES, 11/21).

ASSESSING THE INFLUENCE: USA TODAY's Roxanna Scott notes Beckham on Tuesday "pointed to new franchises (seven since 2007), attendance growth (about 6 million this season, nearly double the 2005 total), the league's TV deal with NBC and fan interest as signs that things have changed" for MLS since his arrival (USA TODAY, 11/21). The GUARDIAN's Graham Parker wrote soccer in America has "transformed during Beckham's time here -- supporter culture, infrastructure, standard of television coverage, reporting and the economics of squad building are all very different from 2007" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 11/20). The GUARDIAN's Josh Guesman writes Beckham will "always be considered a success for L.A." Beckham converted his fans "into LA Galaxy fans." He took people who were "just showing up to a game to gawk at 'David Beckham' and made them watch the game ... and they liked it." Guesman: "Would anyone be surprised if Beckham ended up in New York playing for the Red Bulls?" The bottom line is that Beckham "had a huge impact" on the Galaxy and MLS (GUARDIAN, 11/21). In L.A., Phil Collin writes, "Despite a rather rocky start with the Galaxy ... the Beckham era is drawing nothing but raves at this point." Galaxy MF Landon Donovan said, "We went up to Seattle on Sunday and played in front of 45,000 people. That didn't happen before he got here." Collin writes Beckham "quickly became a favorite of teammates for his down-to-earth approach" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/21).

ALL ABOUT BECKS: SPORTS ON EARTH's Jorge Arangure Jr. writes the problem with Beckham’s six-year MLS era is that it was "a period in which the soccer star’s individual brand grew exponentially while the league remained stalled in relative obscurity." For Beckham, the move to MLS "was always about Beckham." He did "little to actively promote the league and the sport." Beckham was "supposed to help MLS become part of the national conversation." Instead, MLS is "as regional a league as it’s ever been" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 11/21). SOCCER AMERICA's Ridge Mahoney wrote a "minority share in a pending expansion team would neatly suit the needs of MLS, New York and Brand Beckham." There are "hurdles to clear, but Becks in the Big Apple makes a lot of sense" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 11/20).
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