How Beckham turned MLS dream into reality
- David Beckham new owner of MLS franchise
- Lengthy process of deal frustrating to 42-year-old
- Beckham: “Persistence pays off”
The 42-year-old global football (and fashion) icon originally has just wrapped up giving possibly the most emotional speech of his professional life.
The yet to be named 25th MLS franchise will debut in 2020 in a temporary location, but play permanently in a privately developed 25,000-seat stadium within the city from 2021.
But mere minutes after speaking eloquently, emotionally, and effortlessly about a project which has, at times, consumed his life over the past four years, Beckham could put the historic nature of the day to one side, and catch up with his daughter on the other side of the pond.
On and off the field, football or family-related, David Beckham is nothing if not devoted.
It’s a trait that has served him well over the years, and a calm and composed Beckham was able to put the trials and tribulations into context when sitting down with CNN World Sport’s Don Riddell.
‘The right time’
Numerous locations had been considered for the new team’s home but were either rejected or held back by red tape.
When it seemed that the project was going to wither on the vine, a relatively recent introduction to Cuban-American businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, who along with the CEO of Sprint Corporation Marcelo Claure, and the founder of Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, led to a renewed impetus. In football parlance more reserved for transfers, they finally got the deal over the line.
“I just think that it has been a long journey,” Beckham told CNN. “I look back on (things) now and there’s a reason that it’s taken this long. There’s a reason why we’ve met different owners and it didn’t work out … because it just wasn’t right. Now it’s right.”
Beckham found himself drawing on his two decades of sporting experience when times were tough, and it’s impossible to not draw comparisons from his stellar career for club and country — such as the time he dragged England single-handedly to the 2002 World Cup after scoring a last-ditch free-kick against Greece at his beloved Old Trafford stadium.
“Persistence pays off,” continues the man who represented England on 115 occasions. “I just know that I don’t give in. I work hard. Sometimes things don’t happen for a reason and I’ve learned that over the last four, five years since I finished playing. But I think there’s a reason sometimes why things take time. And sometimes some of the best businesses are built over time.”
More than a figurehead
Beckham has swapped the boot room for the boardroom and is clearly more than just a figurehead for his Miami franchise. He speaks in measured tones about the extensive work that’s been required, because, as he puts it, “I am very hands on in everything that I do.”
While he immediately rules out any ambitions to manage the team, Beckham clarifies he’ll “be picking the manager. I’ll be picking the coaches and the staff, but my experience comes from the last twenty-five years of being with some of the biggest clubs, being managed by some of the best managers, and playing with some of the best players in the game.”
When pushed further, Beckham reveals that a blend of international and home-grown talent will be combined to try and bring success to a city which hasn’t had MLS representation since the Miami Fusion were drafted in 1998, but cut from the league just four years later.
“We want to bring great players in from Europe,” Beckham explains. “But more importantly for us, we’ve already said that we want to build a state of the art academy that brings the hotbed of talent of young kids that we have that run through this city into this team and there is a real opportunity there. If we provide the facilities, then we have a good chance.”
All that said, a certain Lionel Messi congratulated Beckham on Instagram, pointing out that, “in a few years maybe you will give me a call.”
Beckham’s savvy approach has not gone unnoticed by the man who originally articulated his vision to bring the Englishman over to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007: MLS Commissioner Don Garber. Though there have been bumps in the road in making MLS in Miami happen for a second time, the main man of MLS has been taken aback by Beckham’s business acumen.
“People would be shocked,” Garber tells CNN. “David has dug in to all of our operating manuals and all of our ownership agreements…David didn’t want to be at the board table, and in the ownership partnership, and not have the same level of knowledge. For days and days on end, he sat in a conference room and poured over documents and he’s been very diligent.”
At times, Garber speaks with what seems like a paternal pride about his newest owner, reflecting on the qualities that Beckham has exuded in his presence. “He’s a very special guy,” Garber says.
“There’s something so deeply authentic and humble about him that, combined with his great sporting credentials, and with this just enormous and professional focus and passion, he’s been the driver of it. He was granted the right to have a team when he came in in 2007, and it took 11 years from the time he started until today.”
And so, with the latest chapter in the book of Beckham now written, future pages will be centering around Miami. “I’m just excited to be in this league and in this city,” he affirms, noting that “being on the stage today and being awarded the franchise officially by Don, the Commissioner, having my partners and owners up on the stage, having our family in the audience, and having the fans—it’s real and it’s happening.”
Indeed it is. And when Beckham concludes that “I’m going to be spending a lot of time in Miami and a lot of time making this dream a reality,” you can’t help but think that this part of the world should be expecting even more face time from him.