Beckham: Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Well, OK, No Guns.

Soccernet reported this morning that lawyers for David Beckham are negotiating with the Los Angeles Galaxy about how to get Beckham out of his contract, allowing him to stay with AC Milan – where he is currently playing on a loan agreement that ends March 9.

Now, to understand this whole deal, you need to listen to the latest Fighting Talker podcast, available here. We interviewed Grant Wahl who had interesting takes on the subject, and who in fact is writing a book about the whole Beckham years with the Galaxy.

One of Wahl’s main points is that the media across the pond is taking this story farther along than it really is. I think this is probably true. Hell, for all we know from this story – Beckham could have just retained a lawyer regarding the situation. The story says the sides are “talking” but there’s been no “dealings.” Sounds like a lot of phone tag – perhaps one-way phone tag, to me.

But there’s much more to consider here.

First, it’s highly doubtful that only the Galaxy would be involved in any such “negotiations.” This is a front-and-center issue for Major League Soccer (if, in fact, it’s a real issue). Beckham’s departure affects far more than just the Galaxy on the field in 2009. It affects the marketing strategies of every other team in the league, who try and boost ticket sales (and maybe prices) when Beckham comes to town. It affects the league because their main topic of conversation, the person that gets them farther up than the 14th page of the sports section in most cities, is gone – while also removing a drawing card for TV. Not to mention the energy it would give the vultures in the press who would love to see Beckham go, since they could then launch that into diatribes on the alleged demise of the league.

I have been on the record as saying Beckham has played his last game in MLS. But I don’t know if it’s going to be a clean break with his guys talking to the LA guys and boom, there you go. It seems too simple, to be honest. There’s too much on the line for Los Angeles, and the league overall, to not put up a fight in this deal – even the fight itself turns out to be more symbolic than effective. This is a league that has held out in selling players of far lesser names to clubs of lesser renown (sometimes with good intent, I’m sure). They aren’t simply going to go to the local credit union and deposit a check and let Beckham wander off.

This is a big test for MLS – perhaps the biggest the league has faced. Even if, like me, you believe Beckham is destined to go, the league has no choice but to put up a fight here, from a financial and public relations standpoint, before signing on the dotted line for any deal that lets Beckham not come back.

On the bright side, it gives everyone something to talk about until the season opens on March 19.

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2 thoughts on “Beckham: Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Well, OK, No Guns.

  1. MLS needs Beckham far more than AC Milan does. That said they should fight for him, maybe try to convince him of something worthy of coming back for which is a stretch. Beckham can see a few things on the wall. 1) He’s at a club within striking distance of winning the Italian league. 2) He is on a team that is stacked with talent enough to win the Champions league as well. 3) A new medal/trophy/ring for winning either looks good on his history page. 4) He is almost CERTAIN to make the 2010 team for England if he stays with Milan.

    When you look at all that I can completely understand why he would jump ship… its a footballers dream and its within his grasp.

    Now that he is on top of the world again how can he give it up? Going back to LA for him is playing in a league he could give a rats butt about winning cept for maybe the history page of winning something across the pond. The MLS cup is really not the stuff of dreams or even within the same stratosphere as the storied cups in Europe. MLS is not playing in ANY worthy tournaments other than CONCACAF Champions League… which is a far far cry from the European counterpart. If MLS were in, say, Copa Libertadores… well then thats something to shoot for but I would be shocked if we could ever get more than 1 club in the tournament… if ever.

    So reflecting on all of this why did Beckham REALLY move to the US? $MONEY$, HOLLYWOOD, A FAT CRIB WITH GREAT WEATHER, and somewhere in all that is the sport he loves. His Priority was not the sport in the US and I don’t think anyone will convince me otherwise. You can tell he played hard in LA but he didn’t play happy, he didn’t flow, he seemed completely out of his element.

    Beckham is where he needs to be, at the top of the food chain, with AC Milan. His stay in MLS was far too short but it was a coup for this young league to have enticed him at all. Now that the ride is over we are feeling less important, less special, and less interesting. Its sort of like when you are dumped in a relationship, it sucks, but you will live. MLS will survive 2009 without Beckham but it will feel less special for some.

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