Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Footnotes

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Beckham's Buy Option

With much less pomp and circumstance than his arrival in MLS in 2008, David Beckham and the LA Galaxy announced the midfielder's signing of a new 2 year contract that will see him playing until he is 38 years old. While the offers from Europe offered more money upfront, (PSG offered $17.5M for 18 months) the option of a reduced fee for an MLS team after his retirement was too much to pass up. The clause was part of Beckham's original contract where he would be given the option to buy a new MLS franchise outright at a reduce fee. Montreal, who enters the league this season, paid a $40M fee and it is expected that if the 20th team ends up in NYC it could have an entry fee of $100M; a bit steep in my opinion. What isn't known by the casual follower of the Beckham experiment is the clauses to the clauses. Part of Beckham's previous buy option had an exclusion for teams in LA and NYC, meaning if NYC2 occurs and Beckham was retired he couldn't apply his option to that team. While the specifics of his new deal are slowly leaking out one thing is clear that the option has been "slightly modified" from the original offer. Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the Los Angeles-based company that owns the Galaxy alluded to the modifications in the option during the press conference yesterday. He stated that, "the partners in the league have structured that option in a way that will allow David to become a partner in the league, to become an owner in the league at some point in the near future and operate and run his own franchise, and were going to encourage that." The previous option allowed for outright ownership of a new franchise, but Leiweke's wording leads you to believe that perhaps it would mean a majority ownership option of a new or existing team. In the case of AEG, they own 100% of the LA Galaxy and 50% of the Houston Dynamo, so perhaps Beckham's buy option lies in Houston. MLS approached AEG and Hunt Sports Group (HSG) in 2007 and informed both groups that they wanted to move away from the multiple-teams-single-owner arrangement so AEG sold half their interest in Houston to Brener International Group and Goldenboy Productions (aka Oscar De La Hoya). Of course the actual wording of the new Beckham buy option have been released yet, but if this all holds true then you can expect all things to be a go for the 20th team to still be announced this year. We will keep you posted on this as it impacts our followers in Orlando and NYC as potential MLS expansion sites.

Premier League-gasm Sunday  

As predicted on this blog (after hearing it somewhere else) FOX would decide to show an EPL match live on network television this season. After several successful same-day replays of Fox Soccer matches on Fox, the network has decided to go all in and feature Arsenal v Manchester United at 11am this Sunday. If Fox really wanted to take a gamble they would have shown QPR v Wigan, but it's better to ease the general public slowly into the EPL viewing hot tub. Fox has drawn reasonable numbers for soccer broadcasts before with 2.6M viewers for the 2011 Champions League final and even 1.7M viewers for the Chelsea v Liverpool replay earlier this season. Although the advertising for the match has been strong on the various Fox Networks it will be interesting to see if the general public tunes in for the Sunday morning match. The scheduling couldn't have worked out better, with the AFC and NFC football championships being shown at 3pm and 6pm, respectively, the match will run uncontested right up through 1pm. If you have any friends that like sports, or even casual soccer fans, spread the word that the match is on Fox. I will make the bold prediction today that the match will exceed 10M viewers (plus or minus 8M viewers). Not to mention the fact that Man City host Tottenham at 8:30am on Fox Soccer, it should be a very filling Sunday morning for soccer fans.

MLS Training Camps Open

Although January 15th may seem early for training camps to open for MLS teams you need to remember that the season is starting the second week of March so there's not a whole lot of time to prepare and trail new players. Most of the teams are heading south for training, since seeing a white ball in snow is a bit of a challenge. With that said, there are several pre-season tournaments lined up for the next two months, the biggest being the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando. Below is a breakdown of the tourneys and teams; if you have the chance get out there to support the squads and get up-close with the players.

Disney Pro Soccer Classic - Orlando, FL, Feb 24 - Mar 3
Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Orlando City (USL PRO), BK Hacken (Sweden)

FC Tucson Desert Cup - Tucson, AZ, Feb 22 - Mar 3
LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake

Carolina Challenge Cup - Charleston, SC, Feb 25 - Mar 3
Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Charleston Battery (USL PRO)

Portland Timbers Tournament - Portland, OR Feb 27 - Mar 4
Chivas USA, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, AIK (Sweden)


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