Everything You Need to Know About David Beckham's Miami MLS Franchise
Official announcements have not yet been made, but it looks like Miami will play home to the latest incarnation of "Brand Beckham."
But why South Florida, when will this happen and is LeBron James really involved? Over the following slides, we answer these questions and give you the lowdown on Becks' proposed franchise.
Years in the Making
There were rumours that Beckham's five-year contract included an option to purchase an "expansion franchise" when his playing days ended, as reported on the BBC Sport website.
In 2009, Beckham confirmed that this was true, when he told the BBC that: "I have the right to own an MLS franchise, which I will action immediately after I have stopped playing."
At the time, it was suggested that Las Vegas or San Diego could be viable destinations.
Early Links with Miami
Shortly before Paris Saint-Germain snapped him up on a five-month contract—which would be his last move as a player—Beckham was being linked with ownership of two potential MLS clubs.
As reported by BBC Sport in December 2012, the then-37-year-old had been approached by franchises in Miami and New York. As the BBC's Ben Smith wrote:
MLS sees Florida is a key untapped market, with no team in the south-east of America and a large following already in place. Given the area's high Latin population, Miami is viewed as an ideal city in which to expand the MLS. The city had a MLS outfit, the Miami Fusion, but the club was removed from the league in 2001.
Another option is New York, with MLS commissioner Don Garber wanting a rival in the city to the Red Bulls.
Retirement Puts the Wheels in Motion
David Beckham hung up his boots last season, after 20 years as a professional footballer.
No sooner had he announced his retirement, attention turned to what he would do next. As reported by BBC Sport, Beckham's representatives were already in discussions with the MLS about buying a new franchise in the United States.
MLS executive vice-president of communications Dan Courtemanche, said:
There have been preliminary discussions with his advisors. At some point in time he will exercise that option and we can go through the process of making sure it is the perfect fit for David and Major League Soccer, but we are not there yet.
Becks Visits Miami
A month after retiring as a Ligue 1 winner with PSG, David Beckham was reported to have visited Miami to consider his investment options.
The Guardian quoted the former England captain as saying: "I think Miami fans are very passionate about their sports and very passionate about winning. It's definitely exciting."
Beckham was said to have met up with representatives of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission and also to have visited the Sun Life stadium, which plays host to the NFL's Miami Dolphins and a smaller stadium at Florida International University.
As written in the Guardian: "It is understood no firm agreements are in place for Beckham to buy an expansion franchise, and that other cities are also being considered."
Months later, Beckham was rumoured to be back in Miami, in talks to find a suitable home for his prospective new club, as seen on MLSsoccer.com.
Beckham and LeBron
Miami Heat star LeBron James confirmed last month that he was in discussions with David Beckham to help bring South Florida its first MLS franchise since Miami Fusion were disbanded in 2001.
There's some interest in both sides. David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years, and I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure.
The research is still being made out, but I think it can be huge. But you never know. I think this is a great town for soccer. There are a lot of soccer players here. There is a lot of great youth soccer here.
According to various sources, including the Independent, Beckham has the right to pay a cut-price $25 million to start up an MLS expansion franchise and is seeking investors to help with start-up costs.
"I wish it was easy," James told the Independent. "We're working on it. We'll see what happens."
Other potential investors include entrepreneur Marcelo Claure, Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross and American Idol creator Simon Fuller, as seen on ESPNfc.com.
Keeping His Options Open
Despite all the reports linking Beckham to Miami, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United player told Sport Magazine last week that other locations remained possible.
He told the magazine (via talkSPORT.com):
The announcement is not out yet – we haven't announced Miami. We have looked at other places. People are talking about Miami because they've seen me there, and definitely that is an option, but we've not put the announcement out.
Miami Beckham United?
As reported by the Mirror's Ben Burrows, rumours circulating this week suggested that Beckham's Stateside club was to be called Miami Beckham United.
This week, exMiami.org wrote that: "Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment registered Miami Beckham United LLLC as the name of a Florida company managed by Beckham Brands Limited."
However, Beckham's publicist Simon Oliveira has denied that this will be the case, telling Metro that there is "no truth" to the story.
Stadium Search and December Deadline
According to the Mirror's John Cross, Beckham is confident of securing his MLS franchise before the new year.
In order to buy his club for a discounted £15 million, the 38-year-old needs to finalise his plans before December 31.
Beckham said: "Hopefully there will be an announcement before the new year. We haven't announced that it's definitely going to be Miami yet but obviously I've been seen in Miami quite a few times. We're getting the details right at the moment."
Finding a suitable stadium seems to be a key element of finalizing plans for Beckham's team. As seen on Skysports.com, MLS chief Don Garber said:
We're very excited about the opportunity of David putting together an ownership group and finalising a site in downtown Miami so we can have our 22nd team. But there's a lot of work that needs to happen.
We believe Miami can work if we have the right stadium situation. We're not there yet. But we hope to get there soon. We believe Miami can work if we get David Beckham and his partners to come together and be as strong as other ownership groups. That is still to be seen.
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