MLS chief defends Beckham deal
Having David Beckham return to the Los Angeles Galaxy for half a season is better than not having the England star back at all, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber has insisted.
Beckham negotiated an extended lease from the Galaxy at AC Milan in a "timeshare" agreement made between the two clubs two weeks ago.
The deal will see the midfielder remain in Italy for the rest of the Serie A campaign before returning to California to play in the second half of the MLS season, which began on Thursday night when new club Seattle Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in front of more than 32,000 spectators at their Qwest Field home.
The Galaxy will start their campaign minus Beckham on Sunday at DC United but MLS Commissioner Garber insisted the LA club would still benefit from the late arrival in July.
"Listen, they get him back for half the season and they get a guy who's performing for one of the best clubs in the world," Garber told ESPN.
"David's over there doing extraordinarily well. The LA Galaxy is not AC Milan and you've got a guy who's starting for AC Milan who's going to come back after a couple more months and he's going to play for the Galaxy.
"That's a very positive thing."
Garber said he hoped Beckham would decide at the end of the season not to trigger a release clause in the five-year contract he signed in 2007.
"You've got to look at the reality of what this business is about," he said.
"It's either getting some of David Beckham or it's getting none of David Beckham and I'd much rather be where we are and have him for the second half of the season and then, again, hopefully for a couple more seasons after that which was not guaranteed in his last contract."
At the same time, Garber said there was more to his league's success than Beckham and that the protracted saga over his future during the winter would soon be forgotten.
"This was a big story for all of us and arguably it's one of the biggest sports stories over the last six months or so but David Beckham is not a one-man stimulus package for Major League Soccer," he added.
"He's the guy that really helped grow our awareness and exposure for the league. He's done wonders to spread the appeal of the sport here and abroad.
"This was a complicated process and it's worked out in a way that's good for David, it's good for the Galaxy and good for Major League Soccer.
"He comes back in July and hopefully he stays for the rest of 2009 and the rest of 2010 and 11. At some point I think this will be another one of those stories that's a chapter in the history of Major League Soccer."