David Beckham is returning to MLS, now as an owner. MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that Beckham exercised his option to buy an expansion team with plans to play in Miami in a ceremony held in a Miami museum earlier today.
Beckham and his business partners Simon Fuller and Marcelo Claure will now continue to negotiate with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and city commissioners for a new purpose-built stadium to be built in downtown Miami. Claure said the team would not play in a temporary stadium during the interim.
As a result, there is currently no projected date as to when the team would begin playing. However, when it does begin play, it will be the 22nd team to join MLS after New York City FC and Orlando City SC begin play in 2015. Beckham said in a statement he is looking forward to continuing his involvement with MLS.
“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.” – DAVID BECKHAM
Beckham was given the option to buy an expansion team at a discount as part of his initial contract with MLS in 2007 when he left Real Madrid to join the LA Galaxy. Fuller said in a statement that Beckham is continuing a long-term commitment to MLS.
“The vision was for David to play in America and to help the sport that he loves to grow in popularity,” Fuller said. “It was central to our plans that one day David would own his own team. Here we are, February 2014 in Miami, the dream is now a reality and the commitment to grow the sport that he loves continues.”
Beckham’s ownership group is still looking for more investors in the next few months, which makes it further difficult to expect when the team will begin play though previous reports suggest the 2017 season as a potential start date. Beckham’s club along with Orlando City represent MLS’ second foray into Florida after its two previous Florida-based clubs, Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny, folded after the 2001 season.
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