What Is It About ‘David Beckham’ That Turns So Many Brains To Mush?


by Bobby McMahon, Sunday, February 03, 2013

On Thursday morning David Beckham signed a contract to play for Paris Saint-Germain in France‘s Ligue 1.

Since the Qatar Investment Authority took over PSG in 2011 the aim has been to make the team a major force in world soccer and by signing Beckham they think he can help make the dream a reality.

“He’s a very proficient player and I’m sure he will add big volume to the club,” stated club President Nasser al-Khelaifi. (Hopefully a remark conveyed by an over-worked translator.)

And of course Brand-Beckham once again became the acquisition that launched a million articles and generated an outpouring of hyperbole.

“A coup not only for Paris Saint- German but also for Ligue 1.”

“Boosting the club’s prestige and marketing prowess.”

“Great marketing from Paris Saint Germain, expected to attract a worldwide audience for Ligue 1 games.”

“The realization of a dream for Paris Saint Germain came to fruition yesterday.”

So much Kool-Aid; so little time.

Of course six years ago you could have replaced Paris Saint Germain with Los Angeles Galaxy and Ligue 1 with Major League Soccer.

A sober assessment of Beckham’s six seasons in MLS would tell you that few if any of the lofty expectations set out in 2007 were actually achieved. Remember the accepted-as-fact $250M contract?

Beckham’s time in MLS increased visibility for the league not only in North America but around the world. But did MLS have to fight off hoards of international broadcasters ready to toss hundreds of millions of dollars their way?

By the end of the Beckham era international rights holders for MLS amounted to 46 broadcaster partners.

In an industry that has seen increased competition for live sports and soccer inventory in the last five years or so the fact that no dollar value was included in the press release tells you that the deals are all about exposure and contribute very little to the bottom line.

MLS saw an increase in attendance during the Beckham-era; 2006 it was 15,504 and last year it had reached 18,807. When measured over 323 games that means that an additional 1,065,000 spectators watched MLS on an apples-to-apples basis.

But Seattle Sounders and their remarkable fans accounted for 733,000 and alone boosted the average for the entire league by over 1,400 fans per game. After adjusting for the Sounders, the average increase for MLS games was 1,900 spectators.

(The Los Angeles Galaxy average attendance rose by about 2,200 from 2006 to 2012.)

Growth is good but I have yet to see any articles predict that the arrival of Beckham in Ligue 1 will add a modest 10% more fans to the present average Ligue 1 average gate of 19,000.

And remember the MLS experience lasted six seasons. Beckham’s deal with PSG lasts 5 months – about the same length of time a company would hire a summer student.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply