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David Beckham tells fans he's 'very interested' in Miami team

Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player David Beckham attends a press conference in Hoboken, New Jersey, July 15, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player David Beckham attends a press conference in Hoboken, New Jersey, July 15, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - Retired England soccer star David Beckham told a live online Facebook event in London on Wednesday that he is "very interested" in launching a Major League Soccer team in Miami, appearing to confirm media reports he had chosen the Florida city over other destinations.

Asked about the reports, Beckham did not deny the news, saying that he was "passionate" about becoming a team owner.

Beckham, who has 30 million Facebook followers, was speaking during a live Q&A with fans in Indian, New York, and Sao Paulo, as part of a "digital stadium" and digital book signing for his autobiography "David Beckham," to be available on Thursday.

His MLS player contract included a clause giving him the option to create a team for $25 million.

Beckham, who retired earlier this year after stints with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the MLS club L.A. Galaxy, toured Miami last summer, meeting with city and county leaders.

During the Facebook event at Air Studios in London, the former England captain famous for his swirling free kicks, made it clear his future remains in the United States as he looks to add new business ventures to his footballing successes.

When asked about the news that Miami was his choice, Beckham replied it was "something I'm very interested in."

Being in America, Beckham said, he had "seen the excitement" of fans and the addition of a dozen new professional teams and the construction of new soccer stadiums.

"It's only a very young league." he said. "It's going to get better and going to get bigger over the years."

Beckham is still putting together a team of investors, a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity as Beckham's plans have yet to be officially announced.

Beckham toured Miami in June. He was accompanied by British entrepreneur and American Idol creator, Simon Fuller, whose management company 19 Entertainment handles Beckham's business affairs, and Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, CEO of Miami-based wireless services company Brightstar Corporation and an avid soccer fan who owns his own team in Bolivia.

MLS has confirmed it is in discussions with Beckham but is awaiting a formal bid, including details of the ownership group, and a stadium plan, along with a south Florida market survey.

"David has certainly been analyzing the South Florida market. At some point we look forward to David becoming an owner of an MLS expansion team," said MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche.

MLS is hoping to expand by 2020 - adding 4 teams to the current 19, and has reached agreement to launch a team in New York City in 2015. Groups in Orlando and Atlanta are also lining up bids.

A fan group, MLS Miami Bid, which has been campaigning for a team, welcomed the news saying it has been told to expect a formal announcement by the end of November.

"We're very excited. We eagerly anticipate the official announcement to come. We are ready to support MLS in this city," said Julio Caballero, spokesman for the group.

Beckham said on Wednesday he had even thought about inviting Sir Alex Ferguson, his former manager at Manchester United, to come out of retirement and lead the new franchise.

But he joked that he ruled him out after comments in Ferguson's autobiography published last week in which he criticized Beckham. He said he thought he was too big for Manchester United and later surrendered part of his career by moving to the United States to play for LA Galaxy.

The star player said he had no interest in becoming a manager himself.

"Management doesn't float my boat, really," Beckham said.

(editing by Gunna Dickson)

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