MLS confirms discussions with David Beckham over ownership of potential expansion franchise
Major League Soccer acknowledged on Tuesday that it is in talks with David Beckham about one day becoming an MLS owner. What the time frame is on those discussions remains unclear.
According to a report on Tuesday from The Associated Press, the former LA Galaxy star has elected to exercise his option to buy into the league as an owner at a discounted rate.
Citing sources close to the negotiations, the AP says Beckham has concluded that Miami is the place where he wants to start an MLS team. The former England captain's original agreement to join MLS in 2007 included such a stipulation to eventually become a club owner.
An MLS spokesman would not confirm that report or elaborate on any time frame when contacted by MLSsoccer.com, but did confirm that the league and the two-time MLS Cup champion are in contact.
“We are continuing our discussions with David Beckham regarding future ownership of an MLS expansion team," said MLS executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche. "Our policy regarding discussions with potential expansion team owners is that we keep those conversations private until the individuals we are speaking with decide they want to go public with their plans.”
Representatives from Beckham's circle did not immediately respond to a request for comment from MLSsoccer.com, but Beckham discussed Miami in a separate interview with the AP on Wednesday without acknowledging it as his choice.
''Miami excites me because I think it's a city that is very excitable," Beckham said in that interview. ''I've been to watch the [Miami Heat] basketball there. I've seen the [NFL's Miami] Dolphins play. It's a city where the people in the city love their sport.''
Beckham has spent time since he retired from soccer this past spring exploring the possibility of starting a team in Miami, including touring several possible stadium sites in South Florida along with local businessman Marcelo Claure (above, with Beckham), and meeting local officials.
According to the AP report, Beckham also considered Orlando, Montreal and San Diego, although it’s not clear in the report the time frame of those considerations. (Montreal was awarded an MLS franchise back in 2010 while Beckham was still playing.)
Orlando is thought to be the next MLS expansion city announced, as Orlando City secured a funding package last week for a soccer-specific stadium. MLS has not had a team in Florida since 2002, when the league contracted the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The league announced in July that it will add four more franchises by 2020, taking MLS to 24 teams. New York City FC are set to come aboard as the league's 20th franchise in 2015.