Big guns eye stake in Beckham's MLS team

MIAMI • Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Paris Saint- Germain's Qatari owners and a Chinese group are among investors looking at purchasing a majority stake in David Beckham's Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Miami Herald reported.

Citing an unnamed source close to the negotiations, the newspaper said the Englishman has been around the world in the past six months seeking partners to invest US$300 million (S$417 million) for stadium construction and players for the planned Miami club.

While he might not be the majority partner in the team, it has been his face that has sparked the project since its inception, when he selected Miami as the place for the discounted expansion team available to him as part of his playing contract with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.

The report said there has been "vast interest" in backing the former England captain.

Some of the investors being bandied about include Russian tycoon Abramovich, an unnamed Chinese group, some American financiers and two Middle East groups, one of them being Qatar Sports Investments, which owns the French champions whom Beckham played for in 2013.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star is hoping to close a deal by the end of the month on a land purchase that would be the site of the team's 25,000-seat stadium.

His group spoke on Wednesday with city leaders regarding zoning and construction issues.

The ownership investment is expected to be completed before the end of the month because the Miami team must have ownership and funding in place to complete the stadium deal.

The report said Beckham is being selective about a partner because he wants one with a football background and the finances to bring top talent to Miami, much like the way MLS club New York City are co-owned by English Premier League giants Manchester City.

Once Beckham has his financial backers and stadium deal, MLS owners must still give their final approval for the team, who are projected to join the league for the 2018 campaign.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'Big guns eye stake in Beckham's MLS team'. Print Edition | Subscribe