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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 23:34 GMT
MLS paves way for big-name buys
David Beckham
Beckham is reported to be attracting interest from US clubs
Major League Soccer teams have voted to relax their salary-cap rules, making it easier for clubs to sign star players.

The "Beckham rule" will enable teams to break the ceiling of $2m per team - a figure that is also to be increased.

Each team will get a "designated player". They can be traded but no team can have more than two such players.

The MLS will still be responsible for up $400,000 (209,000) of the designated player's salary, but the rest will be paid by the team.

"We believe this league has established a solid foundation over 11 years," MLS commissioner Don Garber said.

"Now it's time refocus our efforts to make our games more exciting than they already are."

Some teams want to have star players - others will choose a different route

Ivan Gazidis
MLS deputy commissioner
Saturday's vote in Texas came a day before the season finale, the MLS Cup between the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo.

The salary-cap change follows Friday's decision to allow teams to sign players out of their own youth development systems without subjecting them to the draft.

The move to loosen the league's purse strings comes after recent press speculation that the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls are considering making an offer for David Beckham.

The former England captain is currently at Real Madrid but he is no longer a regular in the first team and is believed to be considering his future in Spain.

Galaxy president Alexi Lalas told this website last week that the team would be interested in the former Manchester United star if he was available.

Beckham himself has already said that he would like to end his career in the US and the US branch of his football academy for youngsters is based at the Galaxy's stadium in Carson, near Los Angeles.

Pele in action for the New York Cosmos
Pele led an earlier wave of international talent to the US
"The purpose of this is to give teams the flexibility to construct the rosters the way they want," MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said.

"Some teams want to have star players. Others will choose a different route."

Several players, such as the Galaxy's Landon Donovan and the Kansas City Wizards' Eddie Johnson, already exceed the current $400,000 limit for a single player, and will be "grandfathered" for one year under the new rule.

But in 2008 they also will come under the designated player rule. The new system will be reviewed in 2009.

The designated players still will sign central contracts with the MLS but the responsibility to attract the player will be the team's.

As well as Beckham, Ronaldo and Luis Figo have also been mentioned as potential targets for MLS clubs.

The relaxation of the MLS' wage controls marks a big step for a league that has prided itself on its ability to live within its means.

Attracting foreign stars to play in the US was a tactic tried by the MLS' forerunner, the North American Soccer League, during the 1970s.

Players such as Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Eusebio and Pele arrived with varying degrees of success, for them or the sport's status in America.

But many within the US game now consider the MLS to be healthy and well-established enough to invest in marquee players that will help the sport's profile.



SEE ALSO
LA Galaxy admit Beckham interest
06 Nov 06 |  Football
Beckham wants to end career in US
11 Apr 06 |  Football


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