Galaxy insist Beckham`s on-field impact is key

David Beckham`s arrival will catapult the Los Angeles Galaxy and Major League Soccer into a new world, but team officials insisted the blockbuster deal is based on football prowess not star power.

Los Angeles, Jan 13: David Beckham's arrival will catapult the Los Angeles Galaxy and Major League Soccer into a new world, but team officials insisted the blockbuster deal is based on football prowess not star power.
"I think the last two days are a pretty good test of what this means to the sport," said Timothy Leiweke, president and CEO of the AEG ownership group that operates the Galaxy.

"I think people underestimate this as a soccer deal. This deal was not done ultimately to go out and make records, it was done because David is a very good soccer player."

Leiweke was meeting the Los Angeles press on Friday, a day after it was announced that former England skipper Beckham, one of the most famous sportsmen in the world, had agreed a five-year deal worth a quarter of a billion dollars to play for the Galaxy.

A veteran of two of the highest profile clubs in the world - Manchester United and Real Madrid - Beckham will instantly raise the profile of the MLS, which continues to be overshadowed by the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and even the National Hockey League.

Leiweke noted that at 31, Beckham is no older than many of the top stars in those leagues - comparing him to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and the NBA's Allen Iverson.

Beckham himself, speaking via satellite from Spain, said that despite his celebrity status, enhanced by his marriage to onetime Spice Girl Victoria, he would be taking his duties on the field seriously.

"With me, it's about the football," Beckham promised.

"That's what I'm all about. I'm coming not to be the superstar but to be part of a team and help the team win."

There is no doubt, however, that only a player of Beckham's appeal could command a deal that will bring him some 250 million dollars.

Leiweke acknowledged the figure in a roundabout way, but declined to go into specifics.

"A lot," he said when asked point blank what the AEG group - more specifically the Galaxy - would be playing Beckham.

"What I will tell you is that as a company we don't release contracts or details," he added.

He noted that 250 million dollars was the figure mentioned in an AEG press release on Friday - credited to "industry analysts" - and said the figure would be in line with Beckham's stature as a player and product endorser.

As for what exactly he'll be making for his on-field efforts, Leiweke said only: "I can assure you we made an economic deal."

And he said the money for Beckham wouldn't prevent the other two MLS teams operated by AEG, Chicago and Houston, from coming up with cash to sign their own high-impact imports.

Bureau Report

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