David Beckham‘s first foray into American soccer was both lucrative and successful. The impact of his next U.S soccer venture could dwarf that of his first.
The retired soccer star will secure the rights to own and operate a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in late 2013. The Mail reports Beckham is nearing deals with at least three investors, who would provide financial backing for the Miami-based team.
“David Beckham is in the final round of negotiations with backers for his return to Major League Soccer as the owner of a new franchise in Miami,” the report says.
“The former England captain … has almost settled on Florida, where the MLS are keen to expand. He is expected to announce progress before Christmas once his co-investors are in place.
“These could include Bolivia-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, who tried unsuccessfully to launch an MLS franchise in Florida in 2009 and joined Beckham in looking at potential stadiums in the Miami area last June.
“Steve Ross, owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, may also get involved, while another multi-millionaire certain to be part of the consortium is Beckham’s business partner Simon Fuller. The most likely home for the team is Florida International University’s stadium in Miami.”
FIU Stadium is located on campus in West Miami. It holds up to 23,500 people, which falls in line with most new MLS stadiums. Claure sits on the university’s board, making it likely that the team would play its home games at FIU Stadium instead of another venue.
When Beckham signed with the L.A. Galaxy in 2007, his contract included a clause, which allows him to purchase a franchise for $25 million (£15.4 million). When he left the Galaxy last December, he announced his intention to exercise that option and join the ranks of MLS owners. That $25 million expansion fee would represent a steep discount on the current going rate for an MLS team.
MLS currently has 19 teams, but the league is keen to expand to 24 by 2020. The New York Yankees and Manchester City paid an expansion fee of $100 million (£66 million) for the 20th franchise — New York City FC. NYC FC will begin play in 2015. It’s unlikely that Beckham’s group would field a team in Miami before 2016.
MLS is reportedly targeting the American Southeast as an area for growth. There are currently no MLS teams south of Washington, D.C., or east of Houston, Texas. Orlando, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., and Miami are thought to be among likely destinations for future MLS teams.
Beckham amassed a fortune, believed to be worth around $275 million (£170 million), during his 20-year career as a player and international celebrity icon. Should he succeed where the Miami Fusion (who played in MLS from 1998-2001) failed, Beckham would almost certainly add to his mountain of wealth in his second career as a franchise owner.
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