Well, it had to happen. Beckham had to leave Real Madrid and to no one’s surprise, he chose a move across the Atlantic to sunny Los Angeles where he would take his freekicks against teams such as Washington Wizards and Dallas Cowboys . Nobody really expected to move from Madrid to Portsmouth (although the prospect of him moving to Liverpool seemed interesting). What has surprised everybody has been the cash involved and the duration of the the deal.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Beckham’s five-year pact includes an annual salary approaching $10 million a year, 40% to 50% of team-jersey sales and a share of club ticket revenue. His endorsements are expected to bring in $20 million to $25 million a year. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the operating rights to the Galaxy and two other MLS teams, said it estimates that, including endorsements, Mr. Beckham could could earn in excess of $250 million over the five years — a deal the company called “the biggest in sporting history.”
Thats an obscene amount of money for any sportsman, let alone a player who is now past his prime, is entering a country where the sport has little mass support (come on even George Best and Pele did try!), is not part of his national football team and at age 31 is now watching his limited football skills go on the decline. Beckham will also be selling global brands such as Adidas, Pepsi and Gillette to Americans.
Miserable days in Spain
After a very successful career at Manchester United where Beckham won trophies every year, he moved to Real Madrid following a spectacular fallout with Fergusson. United had agreed a deal to sell Beckham to Barcelona (albeit a Barcelona that were struggling and had not won a trophy in ages) and the deal appeared to be going through until Beckham hijacked it by signing a contract with Real Madrid. Beckham was a perfect fit for the galactico policy of Real, he was a global superstar, and he would bring millions to Madrid through jersey sales and image rights.
Since then, Barcelona, inspired by Ronaldinho (ironically a Madrid reject) and driven by manager Frank Rijkaard have gone on to win 2 league titles and were crowned European Champions in May. Madrid on the other hand have gone to the gutters as a result of poor management and terrible transfer policies. Last heard, emergency talks were being held at the Bernabeu to understand why the club was under achieving.
To be fair to Beckham, he tried and tried hard. I cant understand how people like Guti and Raul continue to be in the Madrid first XI ahead of Beckham. And, being pushed to the centre of midfield by a series of managers didn’t help his cause either. Worse, he had lost pace. He is no Zidane but he is no Pennant either. You put him on the right side of midfield and Beckham will deliver perfect crosses to your strikers all day long.
What does this mean for the MLS?
Short term interest is no doubt going to shoot up, when every national newspaper and television channel covers the story, you know it’s something big. There will be a definite spike in attendances wherever the Galaxy play atleast over the coming season. But can somebody explain to me how in four years time, a 36 year old David Beckham is going to continue to draw the crowds for much longer?!
Worse, the chances of the Yanks taking to the sport in a big way are about as remote as India qualifying for the 2014 football World cup. Football (or should I say soccer) is perceived to be a sport to be played by young kids, where every kid however poor gets to kick the ball. And there is way too much competition for the MLS from the other big leagues. On the other hand, the young kids (and there are eight million between the ages of 8 and 16 who are playing the sport) might just be the perfect target for the MLS bosses and Beckham’s football academy.
It is also going to be interesting to see if this transfer results in other football superstars like Figo, Ronaldo hopping across the atlantic. Who knows? maybe Shevchenko will move there too. There is already talk of Edgar Davids joining the Dallas Cowboys.
Will Beckham be the messiah who will take Football to the final frontier? Will a very average and ageing 36 year old David Beckham be able to sell cars and razor blades? Will this website survive to discuss that in 4 years time? Only time will tell.