Will Beckham arrive earlier?

January 13, 2007
CanalesBy Andrea Canales, ESPNsoccernet
(Archive)

On the heels of coach Fabio Capello's announcement Saturday that he would not play David Beckham in the starting lineup for Real Madrid again this season, the obvious conclusion is that MLS now has an opportunity to bring Beckham in prior to the start of the MLS season in April.

Though the league had set in motion a massive publicity push upon the finalizing of Beckham's contract, the latest turn of events took the organization by surprise.

Beckham
WireImage / QueenReal Madrid have announced that David Beckham will not play for them again this season.

MLS commissioner Don Garber wasn't the first to get the news that Capello had Beckham's playing days in Spain finished. He was on a plane to Los Angeles and got the news upon his arrival.

"I just heard that this morning," said Garber. "It's very interesting news."

While Garber would not commit to a specific response from MLS, he indicated that a move would be made on the part of the league.

"We're certainly going to figure out what our next steps are."

Because of his clear commitment to MLS, Beckham's options in Europe are limited. Madrid could perhaps loan the player out, but the league would probably not want to risk either his injury or his association to another team. It's also likely that Beckham's contract with Real prohibits any loans.

Despite his clear desire to see the midfielder join the squad as soon as possible, Los Angeles Galaxy coach Frank Yallop realized the difficulty in prying away a player who still has a contract and a high monetary value for another squad.

"I don't think you can push anything," said Yallop. "I think you've got to let whatever happens, happen."

Yet Yallop was sure that he could guess the wishes of the player involved.

"If [Capello] has said that he's not going to play for him any more, I don't think [Beckham] is going to just train every day," said Yallop. "Knowing him, he wants to get on and get going."

If Beckham does not find a way out of Real, it would be six months before his next game in competition.

"I think if David doesn't want to stay there now, he's going to look to try and leave," Yallop said.

Though the Galaxy's owners, AEG, have structured a lucrative contract for the midfielder to come to the U.S., granting him an unprecedented percentage of sponsorship and commercial image control, it would probably take more money to gain an early release for Beckham from Real.

On the other hand, a good portion of the presumed cost could be recouped by having Beckham in the league for an entire season. The Galaxy have already sold nearly double their highest-ever amount of season tickets, even with Beckham not scheduled to arrive until August. Around the league, teams have reported similar boosts in season ticket orders.

To have Beckham present for preseason publicity would push those numbers even higher, as well as raise the likely possibility of sold-out stadiums for many more games for which Beckham might be present.

Yallop admitted that it would be an unexpected coup for the team to have Beckham available for the Galaxy's preseason.

"It will be a bonus for us if we can get him earlier," said Yallop.

Besides the league play of MLS, as well as the U.S. Open Cup, the Galaxy also will be one of four MLS teams participating in the SuperLiga, a new Champions' League-style tournament against squads from the Mexican League.

"We've got a lot of stuff this summer going on," Yallop said. "It'd be great to have him on the team. I hope it happens."

Having invested so much in Beckham already, it would not behoove MLS officials to become miserly now. If the cost to bring Beckham over for the start of the season is possible, the benefits would be worthwhile.

Andrea Canales covers MLS and women's college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She also writes for topdrawersoccer.com, lasoccernews.com, soccer365.com and contributes to a blog, Sideline Views. She can be contacted at soccercanales@yahoo.com.