Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Galaxy must give up the ghost

David Beckham will not be coming back to Los Angeles. That is my guess anyway, based on all that I have read over the past few days.

The will of the player and of the Rossoneri should trump that of MLS & AEG. Last Friday's ultimatum from AEG's Tim Leiweke was fighting talk, before being brushed off contemptuously by the Italian giants: The clubs are back negotiating this week, as Beckham himself had predicted at the weekend.

His lawyers have apparently negotiated a get-out from his myriad obligations, but compensation remains the sticking-point: Milan's opening gambit was a ludicrous $3million, MLS want nearer $13m. From this we can reasonably surmise they will settle for around $10m and wave bye-bye to the Becks (mis?)adventure.

MLS has seen its pretensions to grandeur zapped by this affair, a humbling in the face of the established powers that be. But don't chastise them for punching above their weight.

The man to blame here, which nobody seems to have mentioned, is Steve McClaren. When the then England coach telephoned Beckham in August 2006 to tell him he was no longer part of his plans, he inadvertently propelled the player to America in search of a final payday safe in the knowledge his international career was no more.

But when the same coach recalled him the following May, he kick-started a chain of events which led Beckham and MLS into the pickle they find themselves in today. Becks is clearly still good enough to play for England, as Fabio Capello has confirmed, but that invalidates his reason for being in America in the first place.

With the 2010 World Cup now on the horizon and the 33-year-old in a prime shop window at the San Siro, the football debate is over. And why would Bruce Arena want the disruptive presence in his dressing-room of a man earning phenomenally more than his teammates but who explicitly does not want to be there?

"I know it will be difficult to go back after everything that's happened," Beckham admitted. You don't say...

Signing him was a risk worth taking and Beckham has been a success in giving MLS a shot in the arm of publicity, but the league's long-term future surely does not hinge on him staying.

Whatever happens, we are expecting a decision by early on Friday, after Milan director Umberto Gandini has held talks in LA with Leiweke. But don't be surprised if negotiations continue up to the March 9th deadline.

-Sean O'Conor


Jason Davis said...

Well said. It might even be a positive, from an exposure standpoint for MLS, if negotiations continute up to March 9th.

digchros said...

There seems to be an attitude among people that the Galaxy should "do the right thing" and let him go. I think Beckham belongs with Milan and should be there, but not at the expense of the Galaxy. Becks is worth more to Galaxy than any player in the nation is to his specific team, and if Milan wants him they are going to have to properly compensate the Galaxy. Even if Beckham walked away next fall for free, the Gals still make more money and get more publicity this year than the meager fee Milan first suggested.