Monday, July 16, 2018

MLS expansion confirmed – Beckham gets on board

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under MLS, US Soccer


Major League Soccer (MLS) ended months of speculation today (Wednesday) by confirming that Miami will be the destination of David Beckham’s expansion franchise, but details remain vague on the timeline for the project.

A second team in New York, along with a new franchise in Orlando have already been confirmed for launch in 2015 as the league’s 20th and 21st teams. Beckham’s ownership group will now work with MLS and Miami officials to finalise a deal for a soccer stadium to host the new team, with reports indicating that 2017, or possibly 2016, is being targeted as a launch date.

Beckham, who hung up his boots last year after a five-month stint at French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain, will pay a discounted rate of $25m (€18.5m) to start the franchise. Beckham secured the option of becoming an MLS team owner when he became the league’s marquee signing by joining the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. The former England captain’s ownership group includes his business partner and long-time friend Simon Fuller. The remainder of the ownership group will be finalised over the coming months.

“We appreciate all that David has done as a player, an ambassador and as a global icon to help grow Major League Soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “We are thrilled that he will be an owner, and we look forward to him helping us achieve our goal of being one of the top soccer leagues in the world.”

Miami’s Fusion MLS team folded in 2002, but in December Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was given the green light to begin negotiations on a new privately funded stadium for an MLS franchise and the league today said “productive conversations” continue over the facility.  However, the league stressed that an agreement for a new stadium must be finalised in order for MLS to come to Miami.  Beckham has pledged that he will not seek county or city funds for the construction of the venue.

Beckham said: “Miami is a vibrant, diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and Major League Soccer.  My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true.”

MLS has set a target of 24 teams by 2020 and, speaking in his state of the league address in December, Garber identified Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Antonio, St Louis and Austin, Texas, as possibilities for the final slots.


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