MLS ‘re­ally close’ to ap­prov­ing Beck­ham club

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CHICAGO: David Beck­ham will have to wait a lit­tle longer to get fi­nal ap­proval from Ma­jor League Soc­cer for his planned ex­pan­sion fran­chise in Mi­ami, league com­mis­sioner Don Gar­ber said on Wed­nes­day.

“We are get­ting re­ally, re­ally, close,” Gar­ber said af­ter an own­ers meet­ing Wed­nes­day in Chicago.

MLS own­ers moved to give pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval and con­tinue with the process of award­ing Beck­ham’s group a team for 2020. But the fi­nal vote won’t come un­til later in the sum­mer.

“We’re not an­nounc­ing MLS Mi­ami to­day,” Gar­ber said. “But I am con­fi­dent that we’ll be able to do that some­time, per­haps by the end of the sum­mer. We do have some things that we need to work through.”

Gar­ber said Todd Boehly, an in­vest­ment banker and part owner of Ma­jor League Base­ball’s Los An­ge­les Dodgers, would be the ma­jor­ity owner of the Mi­ami MLS club, not Beck­ham.

“David needed a fi­nan­cial part­ner and he got that with Todd,” Gar­ber said.

“Our board said we are ready to go. David has got a few things to fi­nalise. We hope to be in Mi­ami in sev­eral weeks time to cel­e­brate with David and his part­ners.”

Gar­ber said own­ers likely will vote to ap­prove the deal and end a saga of more than 3 1/2 years dur­ing which Beck­ham has strug­gled to find a sta­dium site and se­cure the land for a venue to house the team his sign­ing with the league in 2007 al­lowed him to buy at a dis­counted rate of US$25 mil­lion (RM107 mil­lion).

Beck­ham’s group pre­sented the lat­est de­tails of their pri­vately funded US$300 mil­lion Over­town sta­dium project.

Wed­nes­day’s de­ci­sion ex­tends the saga of Beck­ham’s quest to start an MLS team in Mi­ami even more af­ter fail­ing to find a wa­ter­side venue, then hav­ing plans for a lo­ca­tion near the Mi­ami Mar­lins’ base­ball park fall through.

The Mi­ami Her­ald re­ported some own­ers are not happy that Beck­ham’s co-in­vestors are able to ben­e­fit from Beck­ham’s re­duced MLS club en­try fee at a time when MLS is ask­ing US$150 mil­lion from new in­vestor groups. AFP

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