Do Miami's Chances of Another Major League Soccer Team Depend on David Beckham?
Earlier this month, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber spoke to a group of supporters hoping to bring the league back to Miami and basically said, "You're a nice city and all, but we're not even going to think about giving you another team unless you start acting like you deserve it.'" But there is one long-shot possibility that could see Miami's chances for another MLS team greatly enhanced, and that would all rest on the shoulders of David Beckham.
MLS has greatly expanded in the past few years. Teams in Seattle and Philadelphia have recently joined the league, and teams from Vancouver, Portland and Montreal will begin play in the next two years. MLS is looking to add another expansion team to start play in 2012.
Miami has been considered in the recent expansions but has fallen short, and it isn't likely to get that 20th franchise either. In fact, the front runner seems to be the New York Cosmos, despite the fact the market already has one team. Though, the Cosmos name has major history, and a superstar management group is helming the bid.
The wildcard in all of this is the fact that as part of his contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, David Beckham has the option of buying an expansion team at a greatly reduced price once he retires. It's an option he plans on exercising.
"I have the right to own an M.L.S. franchise, which I will action immediately after I have stopped playing," Beckham has told the BBC.
According to some reports, though, Beckham's team could not be in the New York City or Los Angeles areas.
Enter an article published yesterday on People.co.uk, the website of a Tabloid newspaper, and not related to the US magazine, that has local soccer fans excited:
DAVID BECKHAM will be offered a chance to take Miami Ultras into the MLS if he fails to get on board with New York Cosmos.
Becks is set to exercise a clause in his American contract that allows him to take a franchise into the league at a cut price at the end of his LA Galaxy contract.
Cosmos are the talk of US football as they launch an ambitious bid to become the country's 20th franchise by 2013.
Paul Kemsley and Beckham's best friend, Terry Byrne, are behind the plan -- while Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is playing a role as director of football.
But Beckham's agreement with MLS -- which would allow him to buy into the league at a fee lower than the $40million other clubs are paying -- rules out teams in New York and Los Angeles.
It means Beckham-led Miami could end up going against Cosmos to grab the league's 20th spot.
This isn't the first time talks of Beckham buying into an MLS team in Miami have emerged. That rumor has been floating around since at least 2008, and you have to figure where there's smoke there's at least a matchstick worth of fire. He's a pretty cosmopolitan and flashy guy, and he'd probably rather spend his time in Miami than other possible MLS expansion cities (Can you imagine Posh Spice trying to survive in Detroit?). That doesn't mean, though, that he'd go against good business sense just to be able to have fun in the sun.
Miami's fight for getting another MLS team is an uphill battle. First of all, we certainly didn't support the Fusion enough to keep them as a viable team. Attendance for our professional sports teams, besides the sudden popularity of the Miami Heat, isn't great. Yes, Miami loves soccer, but allegiances in this international city of immigrants are for international teams. There's also the matter of a stadium.
As for what fans could do to boost Miami's chances, Commissioner Garber told supporters point blank to support the NASL Miami Strikers team and attend the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup match to be held in Miami.
"Miami needs to change its reputation as a market that believes in professional soccer," said Garber. "I'm telling you as a guy who's sitting in New York and promoting soccer matches, we worry about this market. This is a risky market for international soccer. There is no reason why it should be."
If Miami proves itself a worthy city, an expansion team could be a possibility, and maybe then we wouldn't be surprised if Beckham put his weight behind it.
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