CARSON, Calif. – While a host of people sat at the table to get the LA Galaxy’s eye-popping 10-year television deal done, perhaps no single figure loomed larger in the negotiations than David Beckham.
That became crystal clear as soon as AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke began looking back at the Beckham era on Friday at The Home Depot Center, where the Galaxy announced a deal that will keep them on the air for a decade in English and Spanish with Time Warner Cable Sports beginning in 2012.
The new Time Warner regional sports network will broadcast both the Galaxy’s home and road games next season, and will also have the opportunity to show the club’s international friendlies and other non-league matches.
“Would we be sitting here with this kind of commitment [without Beckham]? No way,” Leiweke said. “David took us to another level here. And we always knew he would do that. I know a lot of people shot at us … they’re wrong, and this deal just proved it. At the end of the day, David Beckham had a huge impact in bringing these people to the table.”
Leiweke insisted that there is no component of the deal that makes certain Beckham will return after his current contract expires at the end of this season. What it does require from the Galaxy, however, is a continued focus on acquiring star players even after Beckham someday leaves MLS.
“There is a component in this that gives [Time Warner] some certainty to our commitment to having Designated Players,” Leiweke said. “We don’t name specific players because players come and go and this is at 10-year deal, but they know that we’ve made a commitment towards maintaining the quality.”
Beckham’s status with the club, meanwhile, remains unclear going forward as the Galaxy play host to the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup on Sunday (9 pm ET/6 pm PT, ESPN/Galavision/espn3.com/live chat on lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive). Leiweke, for his part, made no qualms about his desire for Beckham to return.
“David knows he has a home here, and I’d like him to stay,” Leiweke said. “I’m not worried about my relationship or communication with David, nor am I worried about him knowing where we stand with him. He is well aware that he has a home here, and we’d like to continue the relationship. But we’ll deal with it after Sunday.”
The Galaxy are aiming to become the first team in league history to win the MLS Cup with a Designated Player on their roster. Leiweke said that while the new television deal with help subsidize bringing in high-priced talent in the future, there’s no immediate impetus to increase the number of Designated Players.
“We can live within the three right now,” he said. “Is there a day in time that this league grows past that? That’s up to [Commissioner Don Garber] and our partners, and we’ll have a voice. … We are committed to DPs, and this organization will always be committed to DPs.”