Beckham's future is up in the air

Jul 15, 2007 - 1:05 PM CARSON, California (Ticker) -- David Beckham is set to collect even more air miles after the Los Angeles Galaxy's owners revealed they are planning to send the team on lucrative tours to boost revenue.

Beckham - the former England captain has joined the Galaxy on a five-year deal worth up to $250 million - is facing plenty of travel time already following his recall to the national team.

The midfielder is looking at near 11,000-mile round trips between his new home in Los Angeles and London to report for international duty as England manager Steve McClaren's team bid to reach the European Championship finals.

The Galaxy have already lined up a friendly in Australia at the end of the Major League Soccer season in late November.

Tim Leiweke, chief executive and president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) - who own the Galaxy - revealed other money-spinning games are being lined up for England and Asia next year.

Referring to reports that Real Madrid were being offered $6 million a game to play exhibition matches in Asia, Leiweke told reporters at the Home Depot Center: "The greatest opportunity for the Galaxy is touring and international matches.

"I don't think it is $6 million a game, but I think it could be a pretty good percentage. And if you can do six games a year, that can add a significant amount of value to the team and its revenue."

The Galaxy will play Sydney FC at the 83,500-seat Telstra Stadium on November 27.

Leiweke added: "We have the Australian dates locked. We have a couple of dates in the U.S. we're going to do - we're mindful of giving David some rest - so we're trying to be a little focused on making sure we don't overload the schedule this year.

"We're still focused on training in Asia and doing games there next year at the beginning of the season, and I think it's more than likely we're going to take a trip over to 'Jolly Old' [England] and do a game or two over there next year."

Leiweke claimed his emphasis on lucrative friendlies stemmed in part from the inability to expand the Home Depot Center beyond its current 27,000 capacity without entering into a time-consuming planning process.

He reiterated his ambition to catapult the Galaxy into the top tier of world club football during Beckham's stay.

"I've already stated we'd like to be considered one of the top clubs in the world and that means there's that mystical $100 million revenue stream we want to try to get into," Leiweke said. "That would designate us as one of the more significant and relevant clubs in the world. From a competitive standpoint, we're going to go through a bit of a learning curve. You can't expect we're going to beat Chelsea or Chivas Guadalajara right off the bat.

"We're not quite at that level, but we'd like to get there in the next four or five years. But I've always felt the biggest, most important thing David can do above the exposure, the media coverage, the sponsorships, the dollars, the ticket sales is: Can he prove around the world that it's OK to come and play in this league, that the quality of play, our facilities, the fan support for soccer in this country is there?"

Leiweke admits it will not be easy. "If that happens then David has left a legacy that is probably more in impact and standing than Pele did with the North American Soccer League.

"But we're going to have to work hard to get to the next level. The $100 million mark is not just thrown out there without understanding the consequences. As well as we're doing this year, we have to double our revenue and that's going to be a challenge because it's not probably going to be driven by the gate here."

The AEG chief explained that TV figures for Saturday's sold-out Chelsea friendly - when Beckham is due to make his Galaxy debut - would have a big bearing on how much clout the club would have when it came to renegotiating broadcast rights contracts.

He said: "If David has the impact we think he's going to have and our ratings do what we think they're going to do, then there is a good renegotiation coming in the future for some of our packages.

"Some of our packages expire in four years, some in eight, so there's some upside there."






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