The Beckham Deal: MLS Loses


David Beckham is staying at the San Siro until June, according to the Los Angeles Times. He then will return the Galaxy when the MLS International Transfer Window opens. This will essentially be a loan deal for the final thirteen MLS Regular Season games, as Beckham then buys himself out of his LA/MLS contract in December and returns to Milan in January.

The big winner in this deal is potentially the England National Team which leads its World Cup Qualifying group, which will see Becks match fit throughout the qualifying rounds and playing top level football when South Africa 2010 rolls around. Fabio Capello’s prodding has secured the services of the world’s most famous footballer for his former club.

AC Milan and the LA Galaxy both have good and bad to come from this deal. Milan gets Beckham for the rest of the current Serie A season as they chase a Champions League birth. But the club will likely see derby rivals Inter win another Scudetto this season and then may be chasing Inter and perhaps Juve and Roma also from behind next season by the time Becks arrives in January.

The Galaxy free up critical cap space early in the season, and will have a solid squad come Beckham’s return in July to chase a playoff birth. This also depends on the situation with Landon Donovan. While Bayern claims they have little intention of buying the American international outright, he continues to play in every Bundesliga fixture for the defending league champions while on loan.

If the new look Galaxy under Bruce Arena can make the playoffs in 2009, Beckham would have given the southern California club a worthy parting gift: leaving the club in better shape, albeit only slightly better shape than when he arrived. The Galaxy also will get a hefty amount of money from Beckham’s buyout.

The loser in this mess is Major League Soccer who has failed its first big transfer test after the departure of Ivan Gazidis the one legitimate football man in the league’s top brass to take over Arsenal. The league bungled the public relations campaign on the transfer,
and showed that despite being in its second decade of existence, the prevailing logic of world football is still at times lost on MLS HQ.

The bungling of the Beckham saga was so damaging by the league that it has now placed Barcelona’s sponsorship of a potential new team in Miami in great jeopardy. The league also fails to receive a transfer fee for the footballer whose value was at very least appraised at $3 million, and perhaps much much more.

Having failed to substantially improve the quality of play in the league over many years, struggling to save face in the region’s club championship, seeing an exodus of even mediocre American talent (the likes Clarence Goodson, Troy Perkins, Hunter Freeman, etc) to Europe and having to weather a severe economic downturn weren’t enough for the league. They had to make a mess out of a situation that the Galaxy were handling just fine on their own.

After David Beckham shot his mouth off in Glasgow, the Galaxy had a strategy and a clear plan. Tim Lewicke and the Galaxy knew they were probably destined to lose the player but had a strategy to get some return on their investment. But Don Garber, with mindless arbitrary deadlines and concern about other quite frankly nominal issues like All Star games, and marketing deals for SUM, forced the Galaxy deeper into a corner.

We’ve learned one thing for sure from this ordeal. The theory circulated by some supporters that the Galaxy get preferential treatment from the
league’s top brass can now be effectively laid to rest.


16 thoughts on “The Beckham Deal: MLS Loses”

  1. >The bungling of the Beckham saga was so damaging by the league that it has now placed Barcelona’s sponsorship of a potential new team in Miami in great jeopardy.

    No great loss there.

    The last thing I want to see is a league filled with “(name here) USA”

  2. Agreed,
    If Barcelona only wanted to get on the Beckham bandwagon then I would rather see Portland and Vancouver get the teams than Miami.

  3. To say MLs made fools of themselves would be an understatement.

    No wonder they can only manage the 77th best league in the world according to IFFHS.

    You can question the methodology of that study, but it’s the only real comparison we have of empirical evidence to compare leagues and shows MLS to be poor. The CONCACAF CL has been an embarrasment and the league has arcane rules and poor PR.

    MLs apologists and US Soccer fans whose only point of reference is Serie A or the Premier League constantly over rate their own league claiming it’s top 10 or top 25.

    While it may not be 77th, I’d venture to say a dozen leagues in Latin America are clearly deeper and more appealing than MLS.

    Can you believe Barca wanted in to begin with?

  4. Beckham leaving will not be a loss for the MLS. The MLS will get paid a lot of money and ever since he signed, got injured, played a couple games, the saga with AC Milan, all has been publicity for the league. This publicity with AC Milan introduces the MLS to many Serie A fans who would otherwise not even know who LA Galaxy is.

    The deal was created for the publicity and the MLS is dealing very well with powerhouse Milan. They are going to get way more money than Milan previously offered. Besides the publicity and filling seats, Beckham was never intended to make or break this league. The making of the league can be seen in all the soccer specific stadiums, advertising contracts, and numerous teams that want in in the MLS.

    And Maxi, why would the Barca team in Miami be so impossible when Real Madrid is partnered with Real Salt Lake already?

  5. It is about time “The Don” for Don Garber stepped down.

    MLS is becoming a more and more shameful product. I’m American or Anglo-American so I back it but the league as Kartik has pointed out and I agree, the product was more artistic and ultimately more watchable a few years back.

    Bad business practices and bad PR as well as poor player moves and some absolutely terrible results in CONCACAF have the league reeling.

    I don’t think 77th is fair Maxi but is the league top 10 like claimed a while back. No way!

    I don’t watch enough Latin football to know if those leagues are all better but I will say this: the caliber of MLS has not improved at the rate that soccer overall has improved caliber wise in the US.

    The National Team contrary to Kartik’s comments is much better than ten years ago. Is MLS better than 1999? I’d say at best it’s as good, but probably slightly worse with expansion diluting talent and like Kartik says with an outflow of decent american squad players like Goodson and Parkhurst. So MLS has not kept up with the national team’s growth and that is really the best judge for the league.

  6. MLS talent has definitely kept up with national team. Almost every player on that team started in the MLS.

    The problem is the salary cap which is there for a reason. Once money comes in and they can open up they wallets to keep players like Jozy, Cooper, etc. the league will get much better much faster.

    You can only take things one step at a time and in 1999 there were no soccer specific stadiums, no contracts, and less teams.

  7. Agreed expansion has gone too fast, but I wonder if part of that was related to the television deals and trying to get more of a national footprint for the broadcasters/advertisers.

  8. Like Chris B. said, if Barca was only joining the league because of Beckham then thank god they have withdrawn. This is MAJOR League Soccer and expansion is serious business. The $40 m expansion fee is set weed out the Joey Saputo’s and Marcelo Claure’s of the world who won’t be able to compete in the league when the salary cap is $10m to $20m. I hope Don Garber selects Portland, St. Louis, and Vancouver to start play between 2011 and 2013. Then let every other potential city duke it out for the right to pay $60 million for franchise #20.

  9. Kartik, MLS declared today, with the new potential owners of the Miami Team that it was not the right time for a Miami MLS team. Likely due to the recession and Miami being a market with very fickle sports fans (doesn’t mean all are, but its tough when the Marlins, Panthers, Miami FC, etc. all seem to have very low attendence).

  10. MLS is a bad league. Not necessarily horrible from a soccer standpoint but all the dumb rules and restrictions.

    Do you people honestly believe Barcelona was comfortable with the rules of the league? Heck for a club the stature of Barca to not even own the registration of their own players must have been a major shock!

    Do you think Beckham understood the Galaxy could not sign players to compliment his talents because of the restrictive nature of the salary cap?

    I think the people who mindlessly back MLS and say “it’s our league, we back it and love it” simply don’t get the underlying truths of world football.

    Why is MLS given a free pass when it is obvious they have no clue how international football works?

    If Montreal advances in the CCL, what excuse will their be? The Saputos aren’t willing to waste $40 million to join a league whose teams they have already shown they are more capable than on the biggest stage any team in this region has. They packed 55,000 into Olympic Stadium to see the team play while MLS apologists whine about fixture congestion, pre-season and not getting respect.

    MLS doesn’t get respect because they are run like a Mickey Mouse entity. Period.

  11. Sorry, I disagree that the league is a bad one.

    Yes, they have restrictions on player salaries, but the fact is that these are necessary for the Salt Lakes and other small market teams to survive. Not every team in the league has the cash that LA or Toronto or Dallas has. The simple fact is if the salary cap was gone, these three teams would dominate because they are profitable and other teams aren’t. They would be able to dump cash like nobody’s business and would kill the league by being too dominant. The MLS, believe it or not, is the most balanced sports league in North America, and part of it is because of a restrictive cap, as well as players being owned by the league rather than by the teams.

  12. MLS and the Beckham saga. How to make a bad move seem good. Ok, the verdict of history is in and the Beckham pick-up did not work out as planned but is the departure a benefit to the league? Yes, and this seems to be the right way to do it.

    MLS stood it’s ground and declares victory in that Beckham will return to LA, just in time for the heart of the MLS season and a playoff push for LA who will have a player of more importance back permanently with them in Landon Donovan, and who in my opinion is more important to the future of the league and the Galaxy. The American soccer league of no world important has forced Beckham to return to American soil and forced the Italian league to make concessions. I fail to see any plus for the English team, who must admit that they need a player for the next WC that is at least 5 years past his prime.

    So, MLS has declared victory and rightfully can! Well done.

    I would ask if we can start a new post about MLS expansion and the quality of US Soccer as a whole. A forum anyone?

  13. Do you people honestly believe Barcelona was comfortable with the rules of the league? Heck for a club the stature of Barca to not even own the registration of their own players must have been a major shock!

    Really, if you have not been paying attention then why bother bitching. People have been asking the question “Does Barca understand the way MLS runs its league”? from the start. Most people have just been blinded by the Barca name and now its seems that there was a reason that MLS never just bowed down and accepted the bid. MLS will make what 10to 15 million off this deal according to some sources AND get the idiot to run around the field and smile for the cameras. I’m sorry but this was never going to end well for MLS in some people’s opinion even if ACM payed MLS 100 million pounds.
    Beckham is dead to me now :)

  14. Yes MLS is different from the rest of the leagues in general and I agree with the rules it is guided by but until we become like a European league with no salary caps, no DPs, no league wide owning of player contracts, etc. there should be “Beckham” moves. These are not good for leagues like MLS.

  15. BBC is reporting on Thursday evening that no deal is done! Beckham is offering to take a pay cut to make the deal work. Yes, MLS! Stick to your guns! Make them pay. Report is that Beckham is motivated by his desire to make the England team for 2010.

    My take is that MLS is too tough for him, it’s a young mans speed league, and Beckham is looking out for a future Knighthood rather then keeping his contract in America!

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