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Volume 27 No. 5
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Inter Miami, Beckham In Advanced Talks With Qatar For Sponsorship

Inter Miami co-Owner David Beckham is "in high-level talks with Qatar about an endorsement deal" that would cover both the MLS expansion club and and him personally, according to David Ornstein of THE ATHLETIC. Beckham has "strong links" to the country after playing in '13 for French club PSG, which is Qatari owned. Beckham also is "particularly close" with PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is from Qatar. The country in '16 emerged among "various parties in discussions to buy a stake" in Beckham's expansion franchise, but that did not come to fruition as the proposal was "met with resistance by some MLS owners, who would have needed to approve it." However, sponsorship is "far less complicated," and Qatar now is "back at the negotiating table and could this time succeed in establishing a significant presence." The advanced discussions are centered around a "top-tier commercial arrangement which, typically, involves kit advertising and stadium naming rights." Inter Miami is the only MLS club taking part in the '20 season without a jersey sponsor (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/19).

HITTING THE PITCH: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reports Inter Miami yesterday held their "first training session in franchise history," marking a "historic day in a city that has been awaiting the return of MLS since the Miami Fusion folded nearly 20 years ago." A total of 22 players reported to camp, and Inter Miami Sporting Dir Paul McDonough said that six more players "are expected to join the roster ... including two long-awaited Designated Players." Kaufman notes the club "has been linked to a long list of international superstars," but it has yet to sign a star player that Beckham and club co-Owner Jorge Mas "had promised." Reports from the U.K. have Manchester City MF David Silva "on his way to Inter Miami," and he would "likely start after his contract expires in June." However, McDonough indicated that he "doesn't want to save a Designated Player spot until summer" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/21). SI.com's Avi Creditor wrote the lack of big-name players is "emblematic of the entire Inter Miami project thus far: Monumental promises and statements of intent followed up by actions that simply don't match them." MLS "knows it can't get it wrong in Miami for a second time," but given what has happened to this point, it is "hard to take Miami at its word" (SI.com, 1/20).

CAN CLUB SUCCEED IN THAT MARKET? In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes there is "serious international interest" in Inter Miami, as it already has the third-most Instagram followers among all MLS clubs at nearly 500,000. However, the "tougher read is the local passion." MLB and the NHL "are struggling" in South Florida, but the "question always is whether it's the market, the sport or the teams dismal lack of any sustained success." One other big question is whether it matters that Inter Miami "is really Inter Broward." The club's current stadium and training facility are in Broward County, and the "future of this full franchise could be in Broward depending on what plays out in the circus of Miami-Dade politics and the environmental mystery of the stadium site there" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/21).