Beckham plans to 'goose' the MLS with new Miami franchise
Former England captain wants to create a global brand with his own Florida-based team
BRAND Beckham has entered a new phase after the former England captain announced plans for a new Miami-based Major League Soccer franchise.
David Beckham the footballer hung up his boots at the end of last season but the 38-year-old now wants to establish his own team in the Sunshine State that will be "loved by millions". Or, as USA Today paper put it, "goose the visibility and viability of Major League Soccer" - in other words, boost its profile.
The franchise would be the 22nd in the MLS but no date has been set for when it would be officially launched. At present the MLS comprises 19 clubs with two more - Orlando City SC and New York City (the latter part-owned by Manchester City) - scheduled to join next year.
According to the BBC, Beckham's option to purchase a franchise was part of the financial package he negotiated when he joined LA Galaxy in 2007. In the five years that followed his move Becks became the face of the MLS, not only helping Galaxy win the Cup Final in 2012 but boosting attendances and attracting other big European names, including Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane.
Now Becks has his heart set on making Miami part of the MLS family. "This is an exciting time for myself, my family, my friends and partners, and it is something we are really looking forward to bringing to Miami," said Beckham, speaking at the Perez Art Museum and flanked by MLS commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez.
"We're planning to bring a team that will be a global team. I want to create a team that we can start from scratch and I am going to work hard for this city to make this team very successful... I have worked with some of the biggest clubs and greatest players and this is a dream."
Beckham said he will first have a world-class stadium built for his franchise, and then recruit quality players to put bums on seats. "We will bring great players in," he said. "The fortunate thing about my career is players are already interested in coming to Miami."
But the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star also emphasised that the franchise would seek to nurture Miami youth, telling reporters: "The one thing I want to achieve is to set up a kids' academy. We want local talent, not just great players from abroad. The way the US team have improved has been incredible and the only way that will continue is to have good academies."
All the same, Becks will have to bring his best Goldenballs touch to bear on his new enterprise; the last Miami franchise in the MLS folded in 2001 after four seasons because of low attendances. And though Becks was dressed to the nines in the press conference, not a stain on his crisp grey suit despite the Miami humidity, the launch didn't quite go off without a hitch.
As he and Gimenez explained they were still trying to "identify the site" for the new stadium, a light aircraft piloted by some of the mayor's political rivals passed overhead trailing a large banner on which was emblazoned: "Beckham don't trust Gimenez."