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Old 11-01-17, 16:34   #1
 
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Soccer How David Beckham Shaped Soccer in the US

David Beckham Signed Football's Most Lucrative Deal at LA Galaxy 10 Years ago...
and Propelled the Sport to New Heights in US After a Tough Start
  • David Beckham signed for Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy on January 11, 2007
  • He was not the first big name to head to the States but he made biggest impact
  • 10 years on MLS has more teams, bigger crowds and more high profile players
  • The deal also saw the introduction of the influential Designated Player Rule

A Decade on, did David Beckham's Move to MLS Make a Difference?

It’s been 10 years since David Beckham left Madrid for California to join the Los Angeles Galaxy. How did his decision shape the game in the US? He raised the profile of Major League Soccer as well as his own. But his loans to other teams during his MLS career, among other things, were looked upon less positively...

Daily Mail UK, 11 January 2017


It was, at the time, the most lucrative deal in football history.
An estimated £128million over five years, equating to £25.6m each year, £492,307 a week and £2,930 per hour.

David Beckham's decision to join LA Galaxy from Real Madrid made him the world's third highest-paid sportsman, behind only Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher.






David Beckham shows off his No 23 shirt during his LA Galaxy presentation in July 2007





Ex-Manchester United star Beckham (centre) trains with his team-mates shortly after joining



But for many stateside, the move has proven to be priceless.
Tim Leiweke, the former president of AEG (the company that owns the Galaxy), proclaimed at the time: 'David Beckham will have a greater impact on soccer in America than any athlete has ever had on a sport globally.'
Ten years on, MLS has more teams, attendances are at an all-time high and several other high-profile players have followed in Beckham's trailblazing footsteps.


The deal, announced on January 11 2007, confirmed Beckham's status as football's global star.


By the time he left in 2012, Beckham had made 115 MLS appearances for the Galaxy, scoring 18 goals and winning two MLS Championships.
But it was his impact on the league and the sport that cemented his legacy in the United States.






A group of female spell out Beckham's name during LA Galaxy's game against DC United






Beckham poses with wife Victoria at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2007



Quote:

BECKHAM IN AMERICA


MLS appearances: 115
MLS goals: 18
Honours: MLS Cup (2011, 2012), MLS Western Conference (2009, 2010, 2011), MLS Supporters' Shield (2010, 2011)

Beckham was not the first footballing giant to head to the States.
Pele, Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer had all tried to break America in the late 1970s.
But none had the impact of Brand Beckham.

Alexi Lalas, who as general manager of the Galaxy helped lure Beckham stateside, says the deal was several years in the making.
It was, he believes, the 'steroid injection needed at the time to propel the team, the league and the sport to another level'.

A shot in the arm made possible by the support of AEG and a superstar with worldwide appeal.

'I don't think there has been someone that more perfectly fits the bill than David Beckham,' he told Sportsmail.





Beckham poses with his sons Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo (L-R) after winning the 2012 MLS Cup





LA Galaxy legend Landon Donovan celebrates with Beckham after scoring against Houston


'I grew up in suburban Detroit and the arrival of Pele or Beckenbauer didn't even register with me. I would say that the arrival of Beckham – because he transcended the sport – was on the radar of everybody.
'There wasn't anyone else and, even to this day, I don't think a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo would translate in the way Beckham did.'

Rumours that the midfielder would swap the Bernabeu for the boulevards of Los Angeles bubbled for several months before it became official.
The 31-year-old was struggling for game time at Real Madrid and out of the England team.
But that didn't stop the move sending shockwaves through the States.

'It was one of those moments where I remember where I was when I learned the news,' says Grant Wahl, senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of 'The Beckham Experiment'.
'There was a real sense of excitement that MLS had never seen and hasn't seen since.'





Supporters watch on as Beckham curls in a trademark corner during a game in Vancouver





Beckham was not always popular among supporters, with some unfurling banners in 2009


Six-months passed before Beckham finally landed in Los Angeles, a delay which ESPN's Jeff Carlisle says led to expectations becoming 'insanely high'.
He says: 'There is a type of fan that subscribes to the 'magic bullet' theory that one transcendent player or world cup run is, all of a sudden, going to catapult the sport to a different stratosphere.'

It was a mood the league sought to cash in on immediately.

The Galaxy spent much of Beckham's first few months on the road, filling stadia and capturing the imagination of mainstream America.

'He appealed to girls, young boys, and the normal parent in the American suburbs,' says JD Morales, a Houston Dynamos fan.
'Lots of people went to a soccer match for the first time because they knew Beckham would be playing.'
The circus atmosphere didn't last, however. For Lalas it became a 'hurricane' that caused 'collateral damage'.

In his first few years in California Beckham struggled with injuries and the Galaxy faltered.





Beckham scored his first goal for the Galaxy with a brilliant free-kick against DC United





Beckham's arrival paved the way for more big name stars to join MLS, including Robbie Keane




Lalas was fired as General Manager, Ruud Gullit resigned as head coach and, after two loan spells at AC Milan, Beckham faced accusations that he was not committed to the cause.
Only after the arrival of Bruce Arena did the Galaxy's fortunes change.
Three MLS finals in four years followed, as did a host of other big-name players.

Before signing Beckham, AEG had successfully lobbied the introduction of the Designated Player Rule which allows certain players to sign lucrative deals that would be otherwise impossible given the league's salary cap.
It meant Galaxy could bring Beckham to the States and the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and David Villa have all since followed.

But Beckham's role in luring other stars to America was about more than economics.

'He was the pioneer of sorts,' claims Carlisle, 'someone has to be first and jump into the deep end and try it out.'

Lalas accepts, however, that Beckham did not inspire millions of Americans to take up the sport, nor prompt a generation of new professional players.





Beckham won many admirers during his time at LA Galaxy and helped the sport grow in the US





The former Manchester United man controls the ball under pressure from Edin Dzeko in 2011



But by encouraging the arrival of other big names and helping increase TV deals and attendances, he contributed to a financial boom the like of which football in America has never seen.

The sport is still less popular than American football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball.
But the rise of expansion fees – the amount a new franchise must pay to join the league – illustrates the progress it has made.

When Toronto FC became Canada's first ever MLS side in 2007, it reportedly cost them less than $10m.
Ten years on, the LAFC franchise that will make its debut in 2018, paid $110m. Cash.

'Not all of the growth in the MLS in the last decade is down to Beckham,' says Carlisle, 'but I think that was a critical piece, a big moment.'

For Lalas, the fallout from signing Beckham cost him his job.
But he remains certain it was the right call.

'I can look back and be very proud of what we did and still recognise how it changed the brand of, not just the Galaxy, but MLS and ultimately soccer in the United States,' he says.
'It was the right thing to do, at the right time, and with the right person...it was a seminal moment.'

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