TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: If you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you might not have heard: the Beverly Hills Beckhams are here, in Los Angeles.
Soccer superstar David Beckham and his oh-so-fashionable wife Victoria — aka Posh Spice — hit U.S. soil a week ago. Number 23 is slated to play his first game for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night, assuming he’s not still limping around on a swollen ankle.
Our business of sports commentator Ed Derse has joined us on the pitch to talk all things Beckham. Hey, Ed.
Ed Derse: Hi Tess, good to see you.
Vigeland: I understand you’re going to the game yourself on Saturday?
Derse: I am, as a Galaxy season ticketholder, I will be there.
Vigeland: Let’s talk about this hype, it’s been major league itself. Isn’t the big question what will Beckham do for soccer as a whole in the U.S.? Is he really worth this kind of money?
Derse: Well, let’s talk about whether he’s worth it. First of all, his base salary is about $6.25 million. That’s a little bit more than Luke Walton makes in order to play for the Lakers. And in terms of the sort of profile of these comparative players, I think Beckham . . . just a little bit higher.
Look, we’ve heard this five-year, $250 million deal. That’s really is based on revenue participation from jersey sales and the like. So yes, he will make a lot of money. But his base salary, in terms of the risk, you know, isn’t really that big. And as for the second, look, soccer’s already big. Finals of the Gold Cup in which the U.S.A. beat Mexico drew 45 percent more television viewers than the NHL Stanley Cup final. So soccer’s big in this country. Whether Major League Soccer will become one of the Big Four, Big Five as everybody likes to measure it . . .
Vigeland: And as the league has been promising for the last 10 years . . .
Derse: Exactly, but it’s only 10 years old. You know, it’s in an expansion, in a growth mode. They announced the formation of a new franchise in San Jose yesterday. And if you look at this in terms of stock, this is a growth stock with some pretty good fundamentals on which to stand.
Vigeland: All right. What about the Galaxy?
Derse: Well, as long as he stays healthy, the Galaxy . . . actually the Galaxy have already made their money back. They have sold double, or more than doubled, season ticket sales. The stadiums will be full for the rest of the season. But more important, the Galaxy have completely revised their business model. They now are trying to become a global brand, the same way Manchester United or Real Madrid are global brands.
Now they can take this brand out to Asia, play friendly matches, sell a lot of jerseys, raise their sponsorship. They sold a jersey sponsorship to Herbalife, which is $20 million for four years — pretty much unheard of. And recently, it was rumored that someone made an offer of $100 million to buy the Galaxy. When you compare that to D.C. United recently being sold for $33 million, you sort of see that it’s on the uptick.
Vigeland: You mentioned the caveat that he stays healthy. And you know, they’re really just banking on this one guy. And you look back to, say the hey day of the NBA, Michael Jordan was the NBA. But at the same time, you also had Magic, and you had Pippen, and you had Stockton and Malone. Those leagues weren’t counting on one person.
Derse: The question is, is whether he will actually, you know, make it mass popularity. And yeah, there’s a risk — he’s injured right now. In fact, he very well may not play on Saturday night, much to many people’s disappointment, including my own. But the fundamentals of the league are much stronger than David Beckham, and the fundamentals of the Galaxy are stronger than David Beckham. But this could be the thing that takes Major League Soccer from being an emerging league to a league that is popular to the casual spectator.
Vigeland: And so the question is, is the fan base greater than David Beckham?
Derse: Well certainly, it has become a little bit greater, because the season tickets that I’ve owned for the last 10 years or so, are, you know, that have been my season tickets, are now referred to be my wife as “our” season tickets . . .
Vigeland: Ha ha! And hopefully you’ll be sitting somewhere near TomKat?
Derse: Well, you know,
certainly in the celebrity section, hopefully we’ll get a few peeks.
Vigeland: Excellent, well we’ll look forward to hearing about that. Ed Derse is vice president of Interactive Media at Fox Sports International, but when he appears on Marketplace, his views are his own. Thanks for coming in, enjoy the game.
Derse: Thank you, Tess.
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