It was announced last week that the MLS would be adding its 25th club. For the first time since 2001, the city of Miami will have a professional football team. The club is backed by English football legend David Beckham, who paid $25 million for the rights to own the expanded franchise. He will no doubt have an unprecedented effect on the sports content creation and global audience engagement surrounding the league.
When the organisation opens its doors for play in 2020, it will become the sixth expansion team for the US-based league in the past few years. There is no doubt that this expansion continues to prove that the popularity of the MLS is increasing.
One advantage of adding a team to the city of Miami is it’s Latino population what will help drive the club’s loyalty and success both locally and abroad. Miami serves as the gateway to any country south of the United States. It is famously known for its Cuban and Haitian population. Having this core group of ethnicities will certainly play a key role in making this club thrive in the MLS.
However, there is another piece to the equation that other clubs lack. The owner. Beckham can be that bridge for fans outside of the US that no other team in the league has. The connections that Beckham has with so many fans across Europe will give them an opportunity to support an MLS team.
However, Beckham’s appeal doesn’t just help out his own club. By having an Englishman’s presence governing a team in the MLS, Beckham will increase the league’s overall popularity. It’s a poor reason to use, but Beckham is the kind of icon that people will follow. He is English football, through and through.
Of course, this increase in popularity will have multiple effects. The primary to consider is if the MLS will take a Premier League route. After striking a deal with US media giant NBC in 2013, the Premier League has seen a massive amount of success in the states. Would an English broadcasting company consider a similar type deal for natives in the UK? It certainly wouldn’t happen overnight. However, with such a big face like Beckham at the front of the ship, it’s not a wild thought to consider.
Perhaps an even larger domino that could fall is if there will be sponsorship deals created as a result of this new club. It would only make sense that if the MLS sees an even larger increase in popularity than where it is right now for sponsors to intervene. We shouldn’t view this as a bad thing. An increase in revenue for the MLS can mean a lot. The sports scene in the United States is somewhat at a crossroads currently. The NFL has not been at the same level that it once was, and America’s pastime baseball is being criticised for being too slow. This could soon lead to the MLS potentially becoming the country’s most popular league. Changes to the US sports world may be coming sooner rather than later than we expect.