Michael Jackson’s death has reverberated across the world, having untold and unexpected effects across the nation. For example, his death might be the best child support he could have ever offered as the children will “earn a tremendous amount of money over the next 12 to 18 months given the outpouring (of support through album purchases), and he won’t be spending.”
Even though Jackson once held the honorary chairmanship of an English soccer team, it’s unlikely David Beckham could have ever predicted that the passing of the King of Pop could likely mark the end of the ill-fated attempt by the Beckhams to take over America and raise the level of popularity of the sport on this side of the Atlantic.
As Deep Throat said in his movie visage, follow the money. AEG Live, the event booking arm of the billionaire’s corporation, thought they had the coup of the young century when they booked Jackson for 50 shows at The O2 (the artist formerly known as the Millennium Dome) in London.
However, Jackson’s death just before the opening of the London residency has left them holding US$85 million in tickets that have to be refunded. AEG Live is not without resources as they control a staggering number of venues across North America and western Europe. Therefore, they have enough pull with artists of all stripes to fill the venue for many of those nights.
However, none of the artists will match one show of Michael Jackson’s comeback. Also, not all of those nights will be filled. While AEG Live has their fingers crossed that insurance will cover at least some of those losses, the talk of Michael Jackson’s pill cabinet does not leave them confident that their insurers will pay out at all.
David Beckham, just across town in Los Angeles, has seemingly been trying to wriggle out of his “$250 million” deal since he got to the States in 2007 (more like $10 million/yr for four years). The boon to American soccer hasn’t been there and his Los Angeles Galaxy has been downright brutally bad. (This may not be a coincidence.)
He’s played for AC Milan on and off for the last year and finally worked out a deal between the Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan, and himself to play for the Italian team through the end of May and join his MLS team in July. At the end of this MLS season (in November), he’ll have the option to stick around or buy his way out of the MLS deal.
While the Galaxy might have been willing to give it one more shot next season with Beckham, they could use the money more after recent events. Therefore, Beckham’s U.S. bosses may actively discourage him from trying to return for any reason (injury, European teams turn sour on him, Victoria Beckham digs in her formidible heels, etc.)
And, of course, the owners of the Los Angeles Galaxy that could really use the cash on this year’s balance sheet to offset losses in other parts of the business… AEG.
On top of it all, the best thing that could happen to the popularity of U.S. soccer is happening today in South Africa as the U.S. men’s national team takes on Brazil for the chance to hoist their first international soccer cup in modern history. AEG didn’t need to invest in David Beckham to raise soccer’s profile in America; they needed to invest in U.S. Soccer. (Or better insurance.)