Hello. It looks like youre using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best Tortoise experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help, let us know at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com

Beckham’s Miami challenge

Beckham’s Miami challenge

David Beckham has faced an uphill battle with his Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami. Can he turn it around?


Transcript

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today… has David Beckham already failed at Inter Miami?

***

In 2007, David Beckham moved from Real Madrid to Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy.

“We are here in beautiful Southern California to witness a historic event.”

“Beckham!”

“Not just for the Galaxy, but for Major League Soccer and the sport of soccer in the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure and honour to introduce Mr. David Beckham.”

ESPN FC

What many didn’t realise at the time of his arrival was that David Beckham had a unique clause in his contract. 

Unlike in Europe, US sports contracts are not agreed between the team and the player, but between the league itself and the player. 

Once he’d retired, the clause meant David Beckham could buy into a new Major League team for a fixed fee of 25 million dollars, anywhere in the country except New York City.

And in 2014, that’s what he did. Along with a group of investors, David Beckham launched Inter Miami.

 A completely new team, which first needed to build a squad and a stadium. 

That’s why it took until March 2020 for the first ball to be kicked. 

But when the time came, like with anything David Beckham-related, the hype was huge. 

***

“Well if you Google Inter Miami… the top result, of course…is Ronaldo and Messi. Does your contact book…”

“We, we keep hearing that. We keep hearing about, you know, the players that get mentioned. But obviously, you know, if any club around the world have the chance of…you know bringing Cristiano or Leo into their squad then every team would want that, of course…”

Sky Sports

David Beckham may be on first name terms with “Cristiano” and “Leo”… but he didn’t succeed in signing them. Instead, his European transfers were ageing duo Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi from Juventus.

That disappointment was compounded by a fine from Major League Soccer  when Inter Miami made an error. 

Registering Blaise Matuidi violated the “Designated Player Rule”.. which means teams can only have a maximum of three players outside their salary cap. 

Blaise Matuidi was the fourth, so  Inter Miami had to pay two million dollars, the biggest fine issued in the history of the league.

The results have been pretty disappointing too. 

Major League Soccer is split into two separate conferences. Inter Miami finished 10th out of 12 in the Eastern Conference in their first season. 

The head coach, Diego Alonso, was replaced by Phil Neville in January 2021, ahead of the second campaign. 

Inter Miami finished 11th, worse than the season before. 

Meaning they missed out on the end of season playoffs. 

So what’s gone wrong for David Beckham?

***

To find out more, I spoke to someone who has first-hand knowledge.

“Hi, I’m Alex Donno and I formerly worked in Inter Miami’s broadcasting wing. Radio, pre-game, half-time and post-game.”

Alex Donno

Alex says that soccer in the US is so different to European football that there was bound to be an adjustment period for Phil Neville. He lost eight of his first twelve games. 

“There’s really no way to define the 2021 campaign as anything but a failure. There are different degrees of failure but… yeah they did not meet expectations last season.”

Alex Donno

It’s worth asking just how much David Beckham has been involved in the day-to-day running of the club. 

Although he is listed as President, and has certainly attached his name to the team, David Beckham is only a part-owner. Jorge and Jose Mas have the majority stake.

Is this purely a vanity project?

“He was certainly more hands on in the second year than the first year because the first season, he was not even able to come to the States for big stretches because of covid restrictions and the start of the second season when I was in the team facility every day, I saw Beckham quite frequently…”

Alex Donno

“Anyone who thinks he’s only playing that sort of a symbolic role I think is mistaken because he spends a lot of time on the training ground, he spends a lot of time dealing with the personnel there…”

Alex Donno

In Major League Soccer – just like in other big American sports – the league owns the rights to the teams. So when you buy a team, it’s called a franchise.

The problem for a new franchise is the push and pull between winning now… and building for the future. 

Do they bring in experienced professionals and make a genuine push for the end of season playoffs? 

Or do they cultivate young players? 

“I think they are really trying to manage the big picture and the long-term future because the way they did business the first season, they were skirting around some rules. Either they didn’t understand the rules or they were intentionally breaking them!”

Alex Donno

A brand new team needs to attract a fan base. 

Alex Donno says one way of doing that is to recruit players from countries that match their communities, in Miami, that’s South America.

So there’s lots for David Beckham to consider, it’s somewhat of a minefield.

Increased scrutiny inevitably brings increased pressure. 

The new season begins in February. 

And David Beckham needs his side to finish seventh or above to meet expectations of a playoff place this time around.

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Imy Harper.