MLS announces David Beckham-led Miami franchise

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After years of stops and starts, the former Premier League star’s MLS franchise has been accepted into the league

After nearly four years of waiting, David Beckham finally has a Major League Soccer franchise.

MLS announced Monday the Beckham-led Miami club will enter the league as its 25th team with a start date set for 2020.

The ceremony was attended by MLS commissioner Don Garber, Beckham and his ownership group, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.

"They say that great things come to those who wait," Garber said as he thanked supporters for their patience during the long process the franchise has gone through to get off the ground. 

“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” Garber added. 

Beckham said he's "deeply satisfied, grateful and excited" that his mission to bring an MLS club to South Florida is done.

"Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep," Beckham said in a statement.

The league said the Miami team name, logo and coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

Beckham, who followed up a distinguished career with Manchester United and Real Madrid with a successful run with the LA Galaxy, had a clause in his MLS contract as a player that allowed him to purchase a franchise for a discounted price. He exercised that option in February 2014.

However, he suffered through numerous setbacks as he tried to get the franchise up and running, with multiple locations for stadiums falling through. Concerns even began to crop up that the Miami team would never get off the ground.

Signs Beckham had cleared significant hurdles began in the summer as Garber told reporters the franchise appeared to getting its situation sorted out. The league then announced in December the franchise had landed Masayoshi Son and the Miami-based Mas brothers, Jose and Jorge, to join alongside Beckham, Marcelo Claure and Simon Fuller as the proposed ownership group.

In fact, Claure revealed the bid was on the verge of failure until the recruitment of the Mas brothers. 

"About 60 days ago, we were done, we gave up," Claure said. "We were not going to do this. So we met with David for breakfast at a hotel in New York pretty much to say goodbye. And then we looked at each other and said 'man, we just cannot give up. We have to find a way to bring soccer to Miami.'"

The stadium situation has also been resolved as the team will play in a privately funded stadium in Miami’s Overton neighborhood, though Garber confirmed it will at least begin play in a temporary stadium.

MLS currently stands at 23 teams for the 2018 season, with Los Angeles FC set to debut this season. Nashville will be the 24th MLS side. The league is set to choose from Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit for its 26th franchise sometime in 2018.

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