David Beckham launches Miami Major League Soccer franchise

The former England international first announced his plan for a team in Miami four years ago.
The former England international first announced his plan for a team in Miami four years ago. Photo credit: Reuters

The former England international first announced his plan for a team in the South Florida city four years ago.

Former England captain David Beckham has been officially awarded a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in Miami.

Beckham first announced his plan for a team in the South Florida city four years ago but he has faced a series of problems in finding a suitable venue and has adjusted the consortium backing his plan.

"This is something that has been a dream for many, many years," Beckham said.

"When I was awarded the team there was only one city for me and it was here. I was drawn to this city for the same reasons millions of people are - the diversity, the culture, the people, the weather, the beaches."

However there was little detail given of the precise plans for the club.

"Additional news and information on the club - including its debut season in MLS, team name, logo and staff - will be announced in the future," the league said in a statement.

Beckham, the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder, had the right to a discounted franchise as part of the deal which brought him to play in MLS in 2007.

"It has been a process. It's been painful at times," Beckham told Miami's Local 10 News station.

"I think the fact that it has taken this long, the fact that it's taken four years actually has worked as a positive.

"I've always believed in the project. That's why, for me, I never gave up. I knew Miami was the city. I knew this was going to be special.

The Beckham group had two different plans for waterside stadium venues defeated and were unable to secure a deal for a third location close to the Miami Marlins baseball arena.

Marcelo Claure  and David Beckham with MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Marcelo Claure and David Beckham with MLS Commissioner Don Garber. Photo credit: Reuters

The latest proposed site is in the Overtown neighbourhood where the group has purchased six acres of land and has an agreement for three more acres after a deal with Miami Dade County authorities.

That plan has also faced local opposition, including a legal challenge from businessman Bruce Matheson, and must still gain zoning approval, but Beckham said there was no doubt the Overtown site was the one his team will call home.

"This is our site," Beckham said. "This is a site we have paid for. This is a site we plan on using."

The franchise rights will cost Beckham $25 million (NZ$34m), according to multiple reports - well below the market rate.

The owners of Los Angeles FC, which joins the league in March, are reported to have paid over $100m for their franchise rights.

Reuters