MLS: Who owns David Beckham?

The latest development in the David Beckham situation is a compromise that would allow Beckham to finish the season with AC Milan and return to MLS and the LA Galaxy for the balance of its season.  The deal has been described as curious.  But for those who do not follow MLS closely, there is much confusion over Beckham’s contractual status with MLS and the Galaxy.  More specifically, which entity signed Beckham - MLS or the Galaxy?  Ben Berger, who recently launched the blog has some answers.

By Ben Berger (cross-posted at

If there is one thing the David Beckham situation has made abundantly clear, it’s that MLS does things differently.  During the negotiations with Milan, I’ve been repeatedly asked to explain the MLS contract system. 

In the traditional soccer model, players are owned by individual teams and transferred (i.e. sold) when two clubs (and the subject player) agree. Not so in MLS. MLS operates as a “single entity” where teams are controlled by the League. While the level of central control has lessened over the years, player contracts are still owned by Major League Soccer.  Thus, despite playing for the L.A. Galaxy, Beckham’s contract is owned by the League. Thus, to negotiate a transfer, both clubs, the player and MLS need to agree.  This obviously creates some conflicts.

Undoubtedly, David Beckham has enormously increased awareness of MLS worldwide. Selling him now may not be in the best interest of the League and its owners, but very well might be in the best interest of the Galaxy on the field.   Galaxy owners AEG, took the party line with AEG President Tim Lewike stating, “I’m not sure they ever quite understood the magnitude of the losses the Galaxy and the league would have had to bear this season.  They were very respectful discussions. We’re fine. There’s no issues here.” However, Lewike heads the business and not the soccer arm of AEG. MLS teams are held to a tight salary cap, and head coach Bruce Arena would likely much prefer to dump Beckham and use the funds freed up under the salary cap, and transfer funds, to build a contender. Instead, it appears that he will be left with an unhappy Beckham and another losing team.


  1. Athol Kay says:

    It’s kind of an odd system really. I just don’t think salary caps, drafts etc work for soccer considering that there is such a clear global marketplace for soccer players. Why even watch the protectionist ghetto of MLS soccer when you can watch better stuff in Europe?

    Such fuss over a single x-Manchester United player 😛

  2. Can a person clarify why this is inside the information. I do not even know who she is, or her husband, and does it matter. Why do we normally want hear about each and every small detail of some celebrity when actually distinct that the only purpose would be give them some media exposer. Personally­, who cares, I don’t.

  3. I just could not leave your website prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the usual info an individual provide on your guests? Is going to be again continuously to check up on new posts


  1. […] a debt of gratitude to those who have contributed to Connecticut Sports Law as guest bloggers.  Ben Berger, Jarett Warner, Hanna Kim, Gary Solomon, Marilee Corr, Rob Romano, Tim Cedrone, and Dan Canavan - […]

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