SBD/November 30, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Beckham Praised For Effect On MLS As He Turns Focus To Club Ownership

Beckham expressed his desire to own an MLS team but didn't say which one
While MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham's impending retirement from the league "doesn't shake the landscape like Kobe Bryant walking away from the Los Angeles Lakers, he has made a significant impact on the state of soccer in the USA in his six years since coming over from his native England," according to David Leon Moore of USA TODAY. And six years on, "all parties are happy with the results." Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, "He's a player who will be unmatched for many years in this league" (USA TODAY, 11/30). Beckham said of his time spent in the league, "It's been great. It's been a challenge in the first couple of years, but a challenge I knew that I was going to be up against and a challenge I knew I was going to succeed in. Winning the championship last year was for me the icing on the cake on the field." He added, "Off the field, we've done a lot of hard work. Not just myself but the people around the league, the owners around the league, the commissioner, the work that's been done, the academies that have been set up in every MLS team now to bring young players through from a club into a professional situation. They're the kind of foundations that this league needs" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/30).

BECKS' SUCCESS: USA TODAY's Moore in a separate piece notes Beckham's first couple of years in the league "were rocky, but the Beckham era draws successful marks for results on and off the field." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, "It was an excellent deal in that the MLS in many parts of the world was considered a joke." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said, "Beckham just brought a big spotlight. The league was ready for the notoriety that Beckham was going to bring and will be just fine without him" (USA TODAY, 11/30). However, SI.com's Avi Creditor wrote it would be "shortsighted to look back on the entire six years with rose-eyed goggles." Former Galaxy coach Frank Yallop's time in charge was "followed by an even more tenuous regime" under former coach Ruud Gullit, and "while Beckham was on loan at AC Milan, he expressed his desire to stay with the Rossoneri permanently." Yallop said, "Talk about a fantastic move by [AEG President & CEO] Tim Leiweke and the group here. But a brave move from David. It was a big move. He was at the top of his game when he came here, and I think that was a brave move" (SI.com, 11/29). In Toronto, Kurtis Larson writes during the MLS Cup media session, it was "as if Beckham himself wasn't comfortable with the non-match material ahead of the biggest date on the MLS calendar -- one that seems slightly overshadowed by the league's first Designated Player, for whom the rule was made, deciding to take his talents elsewhere." Beckham said, "I think it's up to other people to decide what my impact on the game has been. ... When I go back to England and Sky Sports is talking about the Galaxy, Seattle and Red Bulls, there's interest now. If that's what I brought to this league, great" (TORONTO SUN, 11/30).

OWNERSHIP BECKONING? Beckham called into "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" Thursday morning and discussed plans for purchasing an MLS club. Beckham said, "That will obviously comes into play now. It only came into play once I finished playing here. I’m excited about that. My commitment when I came here six years ago was to take this league to another level, and my commitment stays the same. I might not be playing here but I will become a owner of a franchise and it’s something that I’m excited about. We’re close to a decision on that, but I can’t say it right now." Beckham also said he has a restaurant "in the pipeline" in collaboration with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (RYANSEACREST.com, 11/29). MLS Commissioner Don Garber said of Beckham, "I think he would be a great member of the MLS ownership. He's a serious guy. I don't think people understand what a business mind he has. He's always thinking about marketing, about branding, about everything that makes a successful business. I think he'd be a great addition to MLS." Beckham said, "Off the field, we've done a lot of hard work -- not just myself, but the people around the league. They're the kind of foundations that this league needs. That's what happens in Europe, in the best leagues in the world. And the future is going to be bright" (AP, 11/29).
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