Tim Leiweke's departure as LA Galaxy owner AEG's president and CEO will have zero impact on the club's ability to woo and sign top players from abroad, club president Chris Klein said at a “Town Hall” meeting with fans Thursday, because the real power to do so remains in place.
Klein, who joined Galaxy head coach/general manager Bruce Arena for an hour-long chat from Time Warner Cable's studios in El Segundo , Calif., said the “biggest news” in last week's announcement wasn't that Leiweke would no longer be in charge but rather that Philip Anschutz had decided not to sell AEG.
“Since we've been here in this league, Mr. Anschutz is the one who signs the checks,” Klein said in a session that was transmitted on the Galaxy's website. “So to be able to go to him and ask for the resources and the funds to keep Landon Donovan, to bring in Robbie Keane, David Beckham – that was the ultimate thing. So the news that came out the other day, the biggest news for me is that Mr. Anschutz is still the owner of the Galaxy.
“When Bruce came [to LA] in 2008, the Galaxy was not in a good state. He's been the one who built this team and will continue to do that. Tim had input and would go out publicly, but the ultimate decision came down to what [Arena] feels was best for the team. [New AEG president] Dan Beckerman is actively involved and has been. He wasn't as vocal as Tim was, but he's someone that has talked to both of us and said the commitment is still there from AEG. We will continue to be the Galaxy as everyone knows us, and we will continue to be active in the Designated Player market.”
Arena said Beckerman, previously AEG's chief operating officer and chief financial officer, “was actively involved in signing Robbie Keane and David Beckham. It's going to be natural for Dan to assume those responsibilities if we are able to pursue another Designated Player. It's business as usual at AEG.”
The Galaxy have two DPs on their roster – Keane and Donovan – and have, since Beckham announced his departure last fall, pursued Real Madrid's Kaká and Chelsea's Frank Lampard.
“I think we're telling the people in Southern California that we're delivering a good product,” Arena said. “We bring some players whose caliber is well-respected around the world, and I think we're going to continue to go in that direction as well. I would not be surprised if we deliver another Designated Player this year for our fans.”
Anschutz made clear his commitment to the club last weekend.
“Bruce and I met with Mr. Anschutz this weekend, and he's promised the same commitment that he always has to the game of soccer and to the Galaxy,” said Klein, a former Galaxy midfielder. “That gives us great confidence that we will move forward as we always have. We will continue to be the Galaxy. The words that he used is that the Galaxy will continue to be the 'gold standard' in MLS and in our region. And so that's the expectation, and that's how we're going to go forward.”