Poverty wagesMajor League Soccer completed its most outrageous signing in history by inking a 5 year, $250 million deal with David Beckham. Now more a soccer icon than world class player, Beckham will leave his present club Real Madrid this summer and join Los Angeles Galaxy in August.
It's a mark of how his stock has fallen that he is leaving one of the most prestigious clubs in the world not just for a Major League Soccer team, but one that has finished in the bottom third of the MLS table in each of the last two regular seasons*.
(*-You might be excused for thinking otherwise but this is true.)
The signing is not shocking, but the compensation is: some $50 million a year.
This is quite possibly more than every other player in the entire league makes. By contrast, if you took the top paid player on every MLS team during 2006, they were paid about a COMBINED $5 million. Only five MLS players will be paid more than 1 percent of what Beckham will make.
The compensation is obscene even by international standards. Ronaldinho, widely acclaimed to be the best player in the world, receives a salary of $11.4 million a year. Beckham's current teammate Ronaldo, who has scored more World Cup goals than anyone in history, $8.1 million a year.
By comparison, Pele, generally acknowledged to be the greatest player in soccer history. In 1975, he signed a $1 million a year contract with the New York Cosmos, which translates to about $3.75 million in 2005 dollars.
Beckham isn't even close to the best player of his generation. The salary is a testament to the power of marketing, but it's still almost inconceivable to see how LA's owner could recoup such a gigantic investment.
Los Angeles is already the best supported club in MLS, averaging over 20,000 fans a game at their 27,000 seat Home Depot Center. It is the only MLS club making a profit (this was before paying Beckham's salary mind you).
Though this represents a $42 million a year increase over what Real Madrid was forking over, rest assured Becks isn't doing it for the money. He wants to be a soccer missionary.
How gracious of him to settle for poverty wages.
Update: The BBC has an analysis of the numbers.