“I’m very proud of the time that I’ve spent with the Galaxy and it might continue.” These words, tentatively chosen and teasing in delivery, weren’t an admission that David Beckham has indeed had his head in the clouds for the past 5 years, it was the Peckham-born star saying, “I could stay, but I’d rather move and just in case no one wants me, I’ll make sure I don’t offend.” It turns out he chose to stay.
Yet, having flirted so dangerously with Paris St. Germain without getting in bed with the rich temptress, with PSG’s president stating they were, “a little disappointed,” being told by Warnock that he, “can’t see where Beckham is going to get into [QPR’s] team,” and, until today, stalling on contract negotiations at L.A Galaxy, the former England captain’s future was as uncertain as he is over the meaning of volatile: “Well, I can play in the centre, on the right and occasionally on the left side,” he replied when quizzed on his volatility.
One thing that is certain is that Beckham is one of roughly 250-300 players formally asked by the F.A if they are willing to play for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympic Games. However, his usefulness in the GB squad, likely to contain Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and S. Fletcher, will be determined by his footballing activity between now and then. Initial stalling between the MLS club and David Beckham may’ve arisen, undoubtedly further hindered by David flaunting his services at every major European club, due to the clash between the MLS season and the Olympic Games; however, it has emerged that the MLS Cup champions are willing to grant Beckham special dispensation for his Olympic dream, if it means tying him down to a further stint at the Los Angeles club. Indeed, this made David sign the dotted line; probably being shown where to sign I imagine.
Central to his decision to remain in America was his family; speaking in October, he stated, “I love it here and there is a real chance I will stay, especially if my family are happy.” Three months later and David Beckham has decided not to uproot his family that has grown and settled during his spell stateside. However, the MLS isn’t the only possible provider of future football for David Beckham, despite the fact that he is to remain in America for the foreseeable future.
In cricket, every year since 2008, India plays host to some of the greatest cricketers on the planet in the Indian Premier League. The Twenty20 tournament is contested by 10 franchises, similar to the concept David Beckham is growing familiar with and one he may grow even closer to if he chooses to purchase his own MLS franchise upon retirement. The franchises build their teams through player drafts and auctions prior to the competition and for 94 games of an ever-changing formatted tournament, the best – or at least the most famous – cricketers go head-to-head for the Indian Premier League. Now, it looks as if India is going to offer a similar prestigious league for its footballing counterparts.
Following the same starting steps as cricket, the first seven “icon” players for the eight-week, six-team league have been snapped up. One of the first icon players in the IPL’s opening season was Rahul Dravid, nicknamed “the wall” due to the style of play he adopts in which he plays the shot along the floor back to the bowler – $1m was the price paid to have this player in a T20 team. The “icon” players for India’s first franchised football league are: Robert Pires, Fabio Cannavaro, Fernando Morientes, Robbie Fowler, Hernan Crespo, Maniche and Jay-Jay Okocha.
The former Arsenal midfielder has indicated how the league will take a similar financial approach to the IPL, which sees the players paid a one-off fee at the beginning of the tournament, rather than a wage: “”If my club president likes me it could be 790,000 euros,” said Pires, “It’s a lot of money. I’m not going to complain about that, am I?”
The tournament, which embarks on its maiden season February 25th, looks set to make a similar start to the competition that preceded the IPL – the ICL. The ICL started by contracting a number of high-profile players towards the end of their careers, such as Brian Lara and Inzamam, to take part in a tournament with alike concepts. However, a year later, the much better funded IPL was created, which was able to attract better players by offering higher fees. Judging by the allotment of “icons” for the first football IPL, the project may take a similar path.
The company behind the idea, Celebrity Management Group, have specified that “every team will have $2.5m to spend in the first year.” With the average Premier League footballer earning £96,862.50 per month before bonuses and the unlikelihood that the IPL would ever be able to source such players due to club commitments and contracts anyway, it seems that the league’s main priority will be fundamentally improving the standards of Indian football, “[each team] will have a maximum of four foreigners and a compulsory six under-21 Indian players in their squad,” but attracting the necessary interest in such a project by headlining it with these “icon” players.
With little on offer when it comes to a high standard of football in India and a massive market eager to see a good quality of football in their country – 10 Barclay’s Premier League games are shown in India per game week – there is scope for the idea to really blossom; if managed correctly.
One player that would really signal a statement of intent for the project and a player that has already proven to be one of the most powerful marketing tools in the world is David Beckham. Although his involvement will not come around for the inaugural season, providing it goes well, Beckham could realistically be the jewel of the crown in a future edition of the novel, yet potentially lucrative (the cricket IPL is the second highest paying league in the world), venture.
Beckham has stated that he will, “know when to finish, but that’s not yet,” and with top European clubs obviously still willing to have him in their team, a couple of years may still be left in the former Galactico and Manchester United golden boy yet. He has stated his intention to remain in the MLS when his playing career is over, “I have the right to own an MLS franchise, which I will action immediately after I have stopped playing,” and with his family keeping him in America meanwhile, what better way of advertising his own venture, when he eventually takes up the option, and keeping his family happy too, than an eight-week lucrative stint in an Indian franchised league?
For David Beckham, this is surely the perfect final destination: a league that will appreciate the promotion his presence will bring, much like it did for the MLS; a league that offers franchises an 8-week 6-team competition, the perfect start for Beckham’s future personally owned franchise; and a league that, at essentially a cost of $2.5m to enter (in the form of the wage cap) offers Beckham a relatively cheap source of advertisement to a country that is one of the globe’s highest viewers of football, for the franchise that he will own.
Written by Jordan Florit for www.maycauseoffence.com/
For more articles visit my website or my Twitter @JordanFlorit