Sky Sports, and later, Goal.com, 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.