By Barry Janoff
February 6, 2014: David Beckham has starred for Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris St. Germain, the Los Angeles Galaxy and England's National Team.
Now, the retired soccer icon plans to star as an owner.
Major League Soccer said that Beckham has exercised his option for an MLS expansion team to be located in Miami. It would be the league's second go-round in the area.
Key to the project moving forward will be Beckham’s ownership group working with MLS and local officials to "finalize a deal for a world-class soccer stadium," ideally in the 20,000-30,000 seat range and potentially in time for the 2017 season.
The ownership group includes Beckham’s business partner and long-time friend Simon Fuller; and Miami businessman Marcelo Claure. Additional members of the ownership group will be finalized in the coming months, according to MLS.
“During the last several months there has been palpable excitement in our city when people talk about the possibility of a Beckham-owned team," Don Garber, MLS commissioner, said in a statement. "Today’s announcement is celebrated across Miami.”
MLS' Miami Fusion played from 1997-2001, folding mainly due to financial situations. There will be no rebooting of the franchise.
“I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch,” Beckham said during a press event in Miami on Wednesday (Feb. 5). "Make it something personal."
Beckham said that he has spoken with Micky Arison, majority owner of the NBA's Miami Heat and that he wants to emulate their championship strategy of combining star power such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with a solid organization. "I know this city is ready for football — soccer — this time around.”
James' name is among those being mentioned as a potential partner.
"LeBron is a friend, so we speak as friends about what we're doing, but we're also speaking as great businessmen,” Beckham said during the media conference. “If LeBron comes on, then it'll be amazing because people love him in this city, people love him in sports. He's not just a great sportsman, but he's a great man as well and someone that does a lot outside the game as well. To have him in the fold would be a good thing."
The news comes on the heels of an expansion MLS team coming to Orlando, joining an expansion team in New York, under the auspices of the New York Yankees and Manchester City of the English Premier League, both targeting the 2015 season.
MLS is scheduled to begin it 19th season on March 8, with 19 clubs.
“From the beginning of my career in England to today in Miami, my journey has always been driven by my incredible passion for the game,” Beckham said during the media conference. “Miami is a vibrant, diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and Major League Soccer.
Following a storied international career, Beckham joined the Galaxy in 2007, and led the club to two MLS Cup titles during his six seasons in the league. He retired from active play last year but continues to represent his global brand. That includes touting his own line of underwear for H&M, for whom he appeared in a TV spot during the national broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox.
"LeBron is a friend, so we speak as friends about what we're doing, but we're also speaking as great businessmen."
"My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true," said Beckham.
According to Garber, “We appreciate all that David has done as a player, an ambassador and as a global icon to help grow Major League Soccer. We are thrilled that he will be an owner, and we look forward to him helping us achieve our goal of being one of the top soccer leagues in the world.”