Milan, Galaxy Find Kindergarten Spirit?

Sky Sports, and later,, have stories today about AC Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy/Major League Soccer possibly working on a deal to “share” David Beckham.

It is as if the brass at Milan and Tim Lieweke are sitting at one of those little snack tables in school (remember those little chairs!) and are about to fight – that kind of fighting that little kids get into where they basically wrestle and kick dirt and what not (unless it’s Ralphie going off on the bully in “A Christmas Story” – and the teacher is finally sick of it and has ordered them to share the last of the green jellybeans.

You can read the Sky report here. The deal – which is by no means finalized – would keep Beckham with Milan through the end of the Serie A season and then allow him to return to the Galaxy for the remainder of the MLS season. After that, he could be free to go to Milan based on his contract.

The question for MLS of course is, what do they get out of it. Milan’s Serie A season ends May 31. They are already out of Europe thanks to the UEFA Cup elimination last week. The Galaxy are at Toronto June 6. That game is going to sell out whether Beckham is there or not. On June 13, the Galaxy host Real Salt Lake. If Beckham returns, there’d be 18 Galaxy games left including that RSL match.

However, England have two June qualifiers (6/6 at Kazahkstan and 6/10 vs. Andorra). There is one further qualifier in September and two in October, though they fall within a 16-day break in the Galaxy’s MLS slate.

I can’t see MLS simply saying, “OK, big Italian bully kid, we’ll share our last few jellybeans. And you don’t have to give us anything.”

Simply put, having Beckham play 12-15 more games in the league and then departing really doesn’t do the league much good, outside of perhaps a few thousand more tickets sold in places like Chicago, DC, and New York when the Galaxy play there after Beckham’s possible return. Yes, the home gate will be bigger and a few more shirts might sell.

But, if fans already know, based on a fixed engagement, that Beckham is gone after the season, then will the anticipated ticket bump be muted? I don’t know what kind of buzz there can be over a player when it’s clear A) he wants to be elsewhere, and B) he’s going to be elsewhere soon and there’s nothing the team/league can do about it.

Course, it can be argued that the fans will know this even if Beckham comes back next week. But then, at least the Galaxy can spin the PR machine to say, hey, we promised you he’d be here, and he’s here.

I will say this. Whatever they are going to do – I hope they do it soon. This is beginning to rival the Ronaldo-to-Real Madrid transfer rumor for tedious longevity at this point.


5 thoughts on “Milan, Galaxy Find Kindergarten Spirit?

  1. Also, he had a tiny break between the end of the MLS season and going off to Milan. Whenever he goes back to LA, he’ll have no break between Milan and LA. How effective is he going to be when he gets to LA?

  2. “How effective is he going to be when he gets to LA?”

    How effective has he been for the past two years? Not very. So we must assume he’ll only be worse than the past two years.

    Just get rid of him, MLS. Milk this for all it’s worth (money-wise and attention-wise), and then dump the brat. He hasn’t contributed anything other than the average attendance going up 1,500 per season since 2006.

  3. UPDATE: Beckham back to the Galaxy … in JULY.…,6510100.story

    I’m not going to put more blog space into this since I just wrote about it … and I’m glad it’s (seemingly) resolved), but I wonder what the point is to getting him back with just 13 games left – and that’s assuming he doesn’t miss time in September or October for qualifiers.

    Had this gone on any longer, Billy Mays was going to show up on my TV hawking Beckham for just $19.99. “Use Beckham’s fame to build the game!”

    Yeah, maybe not.

  4. I’m curious, although not nearly bored enough to figure it out myself, what the impact of Beckham had overall on league attendance since the Galaxy announced they had signed him back in the winter of 2007.

    I think the best way to do this is to measure home attendance numbers across the league matches, but excluding the highest and lowest attendance figures from the average.

    Doing this should help to see whether Beckham’s role in MLS has helped increase the number of people who support their home team. Throwing out the high, will eliminate the Beckham-Day Circus numbers, while throwing out the low will remove those one-off days where weather or holiday reduces the normal fan attendance.

    I think it would be interesting.

    For example, DC United’s home attendance for MLS games averaged 19,835. If we remove only the Beckham game (35,979), that average drops to 18,682. However, if we also remove the lowest (Columbus Crew 4/17 – 13,329), the average jumps back up to 19,094.

    If we could measure the 1996 – 2008 league-wide attendance numbers this way, I’d be interested to see if MLS saw a measurable increase in the number of fans attending regular matches as a result of Mr. Beckham’s involvement in the League.

  5. To me, just getting the $15 million or whatever 8 figure fee it ends up being is worth it at this point. MLS has proven that it obviously does not really erode skills for a player, and I think most of his impact was done anyway.

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