Beckham Update: The Galaxy Spinning Begins

Galaxy General Manager Bruce Arena and President of Business Operations Tom Payne will hold a conference call at 11 a.m. so they can start spinning how wonderful this move is for the Galaxy, their fans and American soccer in general.

(The conference call is almost under way. Any questions for Arena or Payne, leave them in the comment section).

No sign of the guy who orchestrated this dopey deal – AEG head honcho Tim Liesweekly Leiweke – but I’m sure he has much better things to do than explain why this is such a great idea. There are some either monumentally stupid or completely naive quotes in the press release below from the aforementioned Timmy, so it’s worth a giggle to have a read:

The LA Galaxy today announced that the club has reached an innovative agreement with AC Milan and David Beckham that would allow the midfielder to remain on loan with Milan through the end of the 2008-09 Serie A season. That season culminates on May 31, after which Beckham would re-join the Galaxy. Beckham will then become eligible to play in MLS games for the Galaxy when the international transfer window re-opens on July 15, 2009.

The multi-million dollar deal compensates the LA Galaxy for the extended loan of Beckham at the start of the new MLS season and has been funded jointly by Milan and the player himself.

“Much has been written and said but, all along it has been our intention to keep David Beckham as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy,” said Tim Leiweke , President & CEO, AEG, investor-operators of the MLS club. “We are pleased he is returning and at the same time, we feel it is important to allow him to finish his run in Milan , as it has been a remarkable run. David continues to re-invent himself as he had done with Milan and we are hoping he comes back to help Bruce and his team win the MLS Championship.”

“We are excited that we will host AC Milan for our fans and look forward to entertaining them at The Home Depot Center on July 19th,” Leiweke added. “This certainly sets the stage for a great season for our fans and we truly appreciate their patience as we have worked through all of our issues.”

As part of the agreement to extend the loan, AC Milan will participate in an exhibition game against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center on July 19th. This game will necessitate the re-scheduling of the Galaxy’s MLS regular-season match against Red Bull New York two days earlier to July 16th at Giants Stadium.

Beckham, originally scheduled to return to the team on March 9th, will not count against the Galaxy’s 20-man senior roster until he returns to the club in July, nor will he count against the club’s salary budget until his return.

“I’m really grateful to the LA Galaxy and AC Milan for making this dream deal happen,” said Beckham. “It allows me to play for AC Milan and the LA Galaxy in the same year, and also to continue my commitment to develop soccer in the United States , which is something I am passionate about. My family is happy and settled and will remain in LA. The perfect result for 2009 would be for me to help Milan to reach the Champions League and for the LA Galaxy to make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup Playoffs.”

The Galaxy has also announced a rollback (10% on average) on ticket prices for the upcoming season. The team will be issuing refunds, in the amount of the rollback, for fans that have already purchased individual and season tickets, according to President of Business Operations Tom Payne.

Since joining Milan on loan, Beckham has played and started in nine league games, leading the Italian side to a 4-2-3 record in those contests. The 33-year-old has scored two goals and added two assists in 810 minutes played. He’s also appeared in two UEFA Cup games, one as a starter. Milan, which is currently in third place in the Serie A standings, hosts Atalanta in a crucial league game on Sunday.

In the last two seasons Beckham has had a clear impact on the game in the States, specifically through MLS attendances. LA Galaxy average home attendance in 2008 rose by 24.9% since 2006. As a whole, MLS attendance went up 6.9% during the same period. His impact on TV ratings is also marked with average ratings on ESPN increasing by 23% in games when Beckham participated. Evidenced by a massive hike in global media interest in the MLS and increases in sponsorship and merchandise revenue, there is clear evidence that Beckham has made a significant impact in the sport in North America.

“With this agreement being reached, we can continue to move forward with our final preparations for the 2009 MLS season which opens with our first game on March 22 against D.C. United at The Home Depot Center,” said Galaxy General Manger and Head Coach Bruce Arena . “During the off season, we began the process of improving our roster and the moves that we have made so far place us in a position to be more successful this season. David is truly an outstanding player and I am confident that his presence will strengthen our roster in the last half of the season as we push for a playoff position.”

With the LA Galaxy, Beckham has appeared in 30 games with 27 starts and registered five goals and 12 assists. In 2007, he was limited by ankle and knee injuries, but came back in 2008 with a team-best 10 assists and five goals in 25 games played only missing action with the club due to national team duty. The Galaxy captain saw a lot of firsts in his first full season in MLS, including his first MLS career goal nine minutes into the home opener against San Jose on April 3 and his first multi-goal game a month later in a 2-2 draw at Real Salt Lake on May 3. Additionally, Beckham was selected for the MLS All-Start game for the first time, setting up the All-Stars first goal in the 3-2 win over West Ham.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Beaten

    Congratulations to Tim Leiweke and the Galaxy for committing what will undoubtedly go down as The Biggest Blunder in MLS & Los Angeles Sports History.

    I’m sure that the season ticketholders will all be grateful for their 10% coupons…

  • Ben

    Price reduction is overdue and the deal finally concluded about 3 months to late…

    What’s the benefit for the fans = a friendly vs Milan (hopefully Maldini WILL make a the trip, even tough he’s retired by then).

    (The price reductions should be seen independently from that with the economy anyway)

    What’s the benefit for the G’s = temporary cap and roster space, but they will have to cut them before he comes if they use it…

    AEG is a winner of sorts, since they get lots of cash

  • Old So Cal Soccer Guard OSCSG

    I can’t wait for the Buy 1 get 4 free Galaxy tickets to go on sale and the buy 1 get 3 games free option they will soon have to do.

    AEG should be excited they put one over the American public for this long. It’s almost as good when Lothar played in NY and wouldn’t even lace up his boots during training.