David Beckham would harm the Australian league
Focus would be on "brand" not football
23 November ~ Please make it stop. I bear David Beckham no ill will as a person but if I hear one more time about the significance of Beckham the brand, I won't be responsible for my actions. Australasian football has been in a lather about Beckham for a week, ever since mysterious rumours began to spread that the A-League would be his final football destination after leaving Los Angeles. Denials from Team Beckham that anything was planned have done nothing to dampen the excitement. Six of the league's ten clubs have said they would have him on board.
However, not all of these are equally promising fits. The chances he is going to see out his days with Wellington Phoenix must be slight, especially after the New Zealand prime minister, John Key, said that his impression after meeting Beckham was that he was "thick as batshit".
The fawning over the Beckham "phenomenon" is pitiful and painful in stretching it beyond the point of all sporting credibility. Sports news programmes here have been continuously rerunning some of his most famous moments. You know, like the goal against Greece in 2001 (that's 11 years ago) and the one against Wimbledon in 1996 (that's 16 years ago).
Beckham is 37. Even at his peak he was very good but hardly one of the greats. This season, as a US commentator remarked on Australian ABC radio today, he has been well behind Landon Donovan for Galaxy and often "overshadowed by Robbie Keane". So what benefit could Beckham bring to the A-League that would justify the hysteria around his potential availability? It's not that players of his age and talent can't offer something valuable. Alessandro del Piero has done impressive work in a terrible Sydney FC team so far and Emile Heskey is scoring more freely for Newcastle Jets than at any time in his career.
The problem with Beckham is that the devotees of his "brand" will be falling over themselves to insert him and his family circus into every possible media occasion, an endless parade of tosh that reduces rather than increases the chances of football being taken seriously. It's a craven and undignified trade-off for skills that have not remotely matched the hype for many years now.
His global appeal has always been unfathomable to me but whatever its cause, it's over – it's time for the world to grow up and move on. Come on Paris, China, Celtic, anywhere – spare us the shame of being the last to realise it. Mike Ticher