When asked if David Beckham, whose return to the English national team sparked a flurry of proclamations between FIFA and the Galaxy about his availability, might be loaned out to a European team during the MLS offseason, Galaxy president Alexi Lalas couldn't pass up yet another chance to whip up the waters of controversy.
Lalas hedged, admitting it was a possibility. Coach Frank Yallop stopped just short of bluntly deriding the idea as absurd.
Set aside for a moment the Galaxy's intent to troupe all over this country and any other to squeeze every possible peso out of the Beckham phenomenon. Lalas has already proclaimed it will embark on extensive postseason and preseason programs to maximize return on its investment. Many events and projects are being discussed, but a lengthy winter stay in frigid Newcastle ain't one of them.
FIFA regulations stipulate that loans between teams in different countries are regarded the same as transfers and are subject to the same restrictions, most notably transfer windows. The same problems that scuttled proposed loan moves to Europe for Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz a few years ago would work in reverse, especially for Becks.
Beckham would only be available between Jan. 1, when the secondary European window opens, and April 15, when the primary North American window closes. If he wasn't released from his loan prior to April 15, he wouldn't be able to play for the Galaxy until the U.S. window re-opened June 15. So the Galaxy will let him knock heads and kick ankles and miss two months of the MLS season or more if he arrived fatigued or injured? Yeah, right.
Now, could a foreign team accept terms that he be released in April and take Beckham for 3 ½ months to bolster itself during a critical phase of the season? Perhaps. Would AEG, MLS and the Galaxy loan out its most valuable asset during the prime time it could showcase him outside of America as well as prepare him for league action, and risk losing him to a studs-up tackle in fierce competitive play? Uh, no.
That concludes our visit to Alexi's FantasyLand. There will be consternation enough in October if Becks is called up for England's Euro 2008 matches against Estonia and Russia, thus missing MLS big-market matches against Toronto and New York, both of which are slated for national telecasts. Ouch.