David Beckham is finally here. Are you ready for Beckham mania?
By now you’ve surely seen the commercial on ESPN welcoming the big-ticket free agent to America. You’ve seen the ads in magazines, the commercials for Victoria Beckham’s (aka: Posh Spice) reality TV show on NBC. You’ve maybe even heard about the Beckham-inspired Spice Girls reunion tour – that’s right, the Spice Girls are coming back with an 11-city tour in America coinciding with Becks arrival in the States.
This is more than the arrival of a soccer, or futbol, player. It’s the arrival of a Global Icon (sorry Lebron) and perhaps the beginning of relevance for the not really respected MLS.
Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy for a guaranteed $32.5 million over five years. His annual $6.5 million salary makes him by far the highest made MLS player. But that’s not all. Beckham’s deal is one of a kind, something never really done before in sports, and something that may inspire Scott Boras when he begins contract negotiations for A-Rod when the slugger opts out of his deal with the Yankees.
Beckham’s deal offers him incentives and profit sharing, meaning he gets a percentage of ticket sales, jersey sales and many other profit-boosting perks. His deal has been reported to possibly be worth $250 million over the five years, giving Beckham the largest deal in sports history (A-Rod’s $250 million deal was spread over 10 years, not five…but we’ll see what he signs for next).
The Galaxy have already sold 11,000 season tickets. LA’s away games are a must-have ticket in cities across the country. Beckham’s jersey will surely be a huge sell, with ads plastered all over the MLS website as soon as he signed.
Beckham’s production on the soccer field is secondary. He’s larger than life. On par with Jordan, Woods, Lebron, Pele and Gretzky. He’s here to take over America – in sports, pop culture and entertainment.
He will face some problems, like getting people to stay tuned after the initial rush of fame subsides. (You don’t hear too much about Dice-K anymore, do you?) He’ll also have to fit in with his teammates, many of whom are making $6 million or more less than the international superstar. The Galaxy’s nest highest paid footballer is U.S. mainstay Landon Donovan at $900,000.
This Saturday’s exhibition match will be Beckham’s debut. It will be televised on ESPN. I expect the highest ratings for soccer in America this year. Beckham will be bigger than the game of course. He’s already bigger than the MLS.
He was brought in to not save the league, but to take it to the next level. Beckham isn’t a name anymore. It’s a brand. Soccer camps, TV shows, T-Shirts, sponsorships…the list goes on and on.
Will he succeed? I don’t know. But I know I’ll be watching. Beckham Mania, here we go…