And they name the team…‘Miami Beckham United’

Obviously they don’t.

But that has been the holding name for what all and sundry (interested) have come to know David Beckham’s as yet un-launched MLS franchise as.

The official announcement came a year ago. And progress in Miami since has been soberingly silent.

An update is expected and apparently also forthcoming, but that is not likely to include what they intend to name the team. Despite the ongoing hype, that is certainly some way off – although, should it be?

Now, it’s not like a MLS team can be built overnight; but some things have not gone in their favour during their efforts to build one.

One reasonable ruling the MLS upholds is: no stadium, no team. And currently, there is no stadium. So by default there is no team. Only a plan.

And their plans had been plentiful, just not fruitful – having had the experience of local government officials rejecting not one, but two stadium proposals. And that’s not forgetting the local community backlash towards those advancements too.

So far, it seems clear that the city – en-masse – are not in favour of the ambition.

As an aside to this stadium talk, Miami’s major gave a candid insight into Miami property prices during this process…”We had one downtown parcel, a quarter of an acre, sell for $125 million.”

That’s not to say that they are all $125 million, but property is clearly serious business in Miami. And Team Beckham will need around 10 acres for this ambition to be realised.

Now, not a great start. But this was not to be without its hurdles.

Putting New York City Football Club together was no easy task. They have been three years in the making to become the second New York and 20th MLS franchise.

But they simply side-stepped the “no-stadium-no-team” ruling and therefore any potential debacle in the process to bring this franchise to life.

They made their temporary home a shared one with the Yankee’s, and instead placed their focus on the brand and other commercial elements to their business to ensure it becomes a success. One way they did so was via huge inroads into community projects with the creation of city soccer schools and training programmes directed at children in low income communities.

One things must be stated – NYC FC have it easier than Miami in a way. They benefit from a tie-in with two of the most iconic sporting brands on the planet – the Yankees (whose role is a much bigger one than stadium-loaning) and Manchester City (with whom they are part of City Football Group).

As such, the way the model was built for NYCFC gives them the ability to make it successful.

City Football Group are building a global football empire. With Manchester, Melbourne, Yokohama and now NYC, it allows them to have different conversations and access far richer global relationships – a reach narrowly only bettered by the likes of a Real Madrid or Manchester United.

So, no stadium. But already a brand. And the proof of that pudding beginning to show with a growing fanbase – about 12,000 season tickets have been sold to see the team next season.

In no uncertain terms, they should elevate the league to new heights – a thriving city, a legendary sports town, and a rapidly expanding fanbase.

With exception, Miami is not that different. But they don’t have a team.

Which hasn’t always been the case – soccer has had a go in Miami before. Twice, Miami has had a soccer team. Twice, it has failed. And those failures should provide food for thought.

First there was the 1973-1977 Torros, before going through iteration after iteration of identity changes until their final demise. And then the 1997-2001 Miami Fusion. They were shut down due to low season ticket sales and no corporate sponsorship’s.

A stadium is important – in the longer run. But it becomes clearer that a stadium for its immediate future is immaterial and does not need to be the ominous cloud it is currently for Team Beckham.

Team Beckham need to move on, find a workable solution and focus on the product. All that matters is the product. Every team that fields a bad product will fail on some level and the MLS is no exception. That will be their downfall.

And importantly, Team Beckham need to shift the valve into high gear if they are to meet their original ambition: ready to play by 2017.

Because with two years to go, time is becoming less of a luxury.

That’s not to say that time is running out for Miami – yet – but the clock is certainly ticking.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has made it clear he wants the league to have 24 teams by 2020. So with other potential expansion cities in Sacramento, Minneapolis and Las Vegas motoring on with their plans, the great race for MLS franchises will continue – with or without Team Beckham. Miami need to get their ship in order sooner rather than later.

The worry is people beginning to question whether the city is serious about football.

A year of no-news on the issue is frustrating to endure – delays plaguing the proposed franchise or not – but more than likely, this franchise in Miami will become reality. There is simply too much at stake for it not too.

Soccer is growing – no question – and at a serious rate in the States. And another great sporting institution in Miami will only contribute to the energy and growth of the city – should it not be the case in Miami, all that will happen is another city picks up their share of the spoils of this growing league and sport.

The question is, can Beckham succeed in Miami where others have failed?

Beckham the player achieved almost everything on the pitch, and had the greatest impact yet on the MLS, but his biggest battle might be one off it. This will be the next step, this time as Beckham the owner.

This franchise will trade as much on the Beckham brand as anything else. But that may be the difference required this time.

Like before, all that matters is the product. And everything about that he will attract, which will in turn bring wealth to the city and the league.

So a name at this point may be the least of the worry, whereas it should actually be high priority as part of the focus on brand and purpose.


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