Anything new to latest David Beckham, Miami, MLS expansion story? Maybe just a little

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Here’s what we know about David Beckham the player: his array of handlers at 19 Entertainment were always tops about keeping the global icon in the news. Even when there wasn’t much newsiness in the “news,”  they faithfully, skillfully worked the media levers to keep the man’s Q rating and brand appeal at military grade strength.

And here’s what we are discovering about Beckham’s post-playing days: nothing is going to change as far as keeping his name in the news and handlers skillfully working the media levers.

To wit: About once a month or so, we read about David Beckham, MLS expansion and Miami. It’s pretty much always the same story, with possibly just a smidge of new info.

But that’s the evil genius of Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment: They know how it all works, how to inch the story forward ever so slowly – always keeping the batteries fresh and the lights illuminating Beckham’s brand machine.

Today comes the latest clicks driver, the next story that says, essentially, “David Beckham wants an MLS expansion franchise, and it will probably be in Miami.” This one is from Associated Press’ UK-based reporter Rob Harris.

This is no criticism on Harris. Any reporter who can move the story along, even a little, is a fool not to exploit the opportunity. And this one does say that Beckham has “picked Miami.” That, coming from an unnamed source, scoots the story forward just a bit.

Thing is, that is far, far from official; more on that in a second.

Harris also reported that Fuller, of “American Idol” creation fame, “will be a significant shareholder.” Truth is, Fuller has long been significantly involved in every major Beckham business venture, and he was always going to be involved here at some level.

I spoke to MLS executive vice president Dan Courtemanche late this afternoon. He told me Beckham has yet to reveal the particular makeup of his ownership group.

Courtemanche declined to say whether Beckham had made any official proclamations to MLS of Miami as the primary target.

source:
Just 11 months ago, Beckham was walking off the StubHub Center field, an MLS champion.

“We are continuing our discussions with David Beckham regarding future ownership of an MLS expansion team,” Courtemanche said. “Our policy regarding discussions with potential expansion team owners is that we keep those conversations private until the individuals we are speaking with decide they want to go public with their plans. Thus, it is more appropriate for David Beckham to comment on his plans.”

My guess: Beckham can say today that Miami is it, his one true MLS expansion love!  That he adores Miami and wants to be in the land of pastels and believes South Florida soon will be Seattle, Portland and Toronto FC (circa 2008) all rolled into one.

But if Beckham runs more numbers and decides tomorrow that Miami just doesn’t work, for whatever reason, he can certainly change his mind. MLS isn’t going to turn the man down – well, MLS can’t contractually, even if it wanted to – because the object of Beckham’s geographical affections has shifted elsewhere.

In other words, if the next Beckham-MLS expansion story says he is now considering San Diego or San Francisco or San Antonio or wherever, MLS will probably respond with, “Sounds good. … Let’s get a look at that stadium plan!”

And if Beckham does such a thing, that will make a good story for Fuller or one of his 19 Entertainment handlers to leak, too.

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.