David Beckham said he is not ready to retire just yet, but when he does Major League Soccer would be standing by to help him take up his option to buy into the league whose horizons he helped expand.
When he inked his ground-breaking five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, it included a unique agreement that when he was done playing he would have the right to exercise an option to become an owner.
Since reported to be about US$25 million, that buy-in would be considerably less than the current market rate — at least in part because Beckham’s tenure with the Galaxy has helped raise the league’s profile.
The Montreal Impact paid US$40 million in the spring of 2010 and the team began to play this season, and the price certainly is not dropping.
“At that time, remember where Major League soccer was,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Monday in his state of the league summation, part of the buildup to today’s MLS Cup league title match.
Beckham and the Galaxy are vying for a second straight title over the same team they beat last year, Houston Dynamo.
“I believe we had 12 teams in the league. We had not yet had the television relationships that we have today. We had probably half the number of soccer[-specific] stadiums and the league was just more immature,” Garber said. “What we were looking for was a long-term partner in building this league, someone who was committed to working with us in creating more value for everyone. That’s the role that David played.”
Beckham, winner of six English Premier League titles with Manchester United and a Spanish La Liga title with Real Madrid, captured his first MLS championship in the final match of his original contract.
He opted to return, but said this month that today’s match would be his last MLS outing.
Not yet ready to call time on his playing career, Beckham said he has some “exciting options on the table” as he considers where to play next.
That means there is no hurry to work out his ownership options, which Garber said would include any MLS market except New York, where plans for launching a second team are already underway.
That raises the possibility that Beckham could end up owning a team in Los Angeles, currently home of the flourishing Galaxy, as well as Chivas USA.
The Galaxy are part of the mammoth Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is currently for sale.
“There is a possibility for him to work with the league office to find ways to transfer that option into an opportunity in LA,” Garber said. “It’s way too premature to even talk about that or to even speculate what that would look like, but that opportunity does exist.”