Bloomberg News

Beckham May Become MLS Franchise Owner After Galaxy Deal Ends

January 20, 2012

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- David Beckham said he may buy a Major League Soccer team after his new two-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy ends.

“I have the option of owning a franchise, and that excites me,” Beckham said at a news conference yesterday in Los Angeles.

Since Beckham, 36, joined the Galaxy in 2007, the number of MLS teams has increased to 19 from 12. The fee to buy into the league through an expansion club has quadrupled to $40 million, the Galaxy said in a news release two days ago. Forbes estimated Beckham’s 2010 income at $40 million, while his net worth is about $291 million, the U.K.’s Sunday Times said in May.

Beckham’s original five-year accord included the option to buy a franchise after he retires from playing. Helping him fulfill that formed part of the latest contract talks, said Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Los Angeles-based company that owns the Galaxy.

“He made it very clear to us we have to sort this through, that he’s going to exercise his option to be an owner in Major League Soccer,” Leiweke said. “We have a commitment to help him when that time comes and my guess is that, unless that’s part of the Galaxy, we’re going to be competing with him on and off the pitch.”

MLS has made the arrangements needed to allow former England captain Beckham to become an owner, Leiweke said.

Franchise Future

“The partners in the league have structured that option in a way that will allow David to become a partner in the league, to become an owner in the league at some point in the near future and operate and run his own franchise, and we’re going to encourage that,” he said. “Unless I’m mistaken, that’s his future once he does make a decision to retire.”

Beckham made his debut for Manchester United in 1995 as a 17-year-old and came to prominence by scoring from the halfway line against Wimbledon on the opening day of the following season. He won England’s Premier League six times with United, the F.A. Cup twice and the Champions League, Europe’s top prize.

He won the Spanish league title while at Real Madrid, which he joined in 2003, and played in 115 games for England, the most by a non-goalkeeper. In November, he helped the Galaxy win the MLS championship for the first time in six years.

MLS Season

The Galaxy return to competition on March 7 against Toronto in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. They open the 2012 MLS season three days later at home against Real Salt Lake.

Family stability was a key reason Beckham elected to remain at the Galaxy rather than return to Europe. Beckham has four children with his wife, Victoria, a former member of the Spice Girls pop group.

“Our eldest son was a big part of it,” Beckham said. “He’s at the stage in his life where he needs that stability in his schooling and that was a huge factor as well. But, like I said, on New Year’s Eve we had a nice glass of wine and we thought we’re too happy to move.”

Beckham said one of his targets for 2012 is to play for Great Britain at the London Olympics. He said he has no thoughts of retiring at the end of his latest deal.

“Retirement was never a part of my plans,” he said. “I’ve not even started thinking about that.”

--Editors: Dan Baynes, Rob Gloster

To contact the reporter on this story: Dex McLuskey in Dallas at dmcluskey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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