Beckham's Galaxy move sparks high hopes

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David Beckham's much trumpeted move to LA Galaxy this week has thrown the spotlight on the financial impact he is likely to make on the game in the United States.

The England midfielder, one of the world's most marketable sports figures, has joined Galaxy from Real Madrid on a lucrative deal that will earn him a reported $250 million over five years.

His basic annual salary of $5.5 million is more than 50 times the average in Major League Soccer (MLS), according to figures released by the MLS Players Union.

U.S. international striker Landon Donovan, Galaxy's highest profile player after Beckham, earns $900,000. Midfielder Kyle Martino, the 2002 MLS rookie of the year, is on a salary of $52,500.

The top earning American player in MLS is midfielder Claudio Reyna who is on a $1 million deal with the New York Red Bulls.

Beckham was contracted under a new 'designated player' arrangement that allows each club to sign one player on their own terms and initially there were reports of jealousy within the Galaxy ranks.

"The money is always going to be a big part of the story, whether you are walking down the street or whether you are in the locker room," Galaxy club president Alexi Lalas told Reuters.

"And the dynamics of a locker room are important because they manifest themselves out there on the field. Having said that, I think nobody on our team begrudges David Beckham the opportunity to make as much money as possible.

"If anybody has earned the right to have these types of contracts, it's David Beckham for what he has done on and off the field. I think the players realize this is a guy who has worked very, very hard to get to this level."

Lalas believes the big-money impact of Beckham, who will be officially introduced as a Galaxy player on Friday, can only benefit his new teammates.

"I think the players look at it as an opportunity to perform within his spotlight," the former United States international said.

"As that spotlight shines on David Beckham and the Galaxy, it's shining on all of our players. As you know they can make international news by what they do on the field.

"And if David Beckham can help grow the league, it's going to be reflected all over the map, including the way that our players are paid."

Several months ago, Lalas predicted the 32-year-old Beckham would pay for himself before he donned a Galaxy jersey for the first time.

"The positive impact his signing has had on our organization, our league and our sport already is unprecedented," he said.

"We have sold thousands of tickets and the economics are beyond what we had anticipated for this initial time period," Lalas added.

Blessed with good looks, a pop star wife and a talent for self-promotion, Beckham proved to be a marketing dream during his four years with Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants overtook his previous team, Manchester United, as the richest club in the world and also cracked the lucrative Asian market thanks to his presence.

During his first six months in Spain, more than 1 million Beckham shirts were sold.

After he left Spain on a high midway through last month with Real celebrating Primera Liga title success, the club's director of marketing Jose Angel Sanchez said Beckham had been worth in excess of $600 million in marketing revenue.
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