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Beckham status causes Galaxy to cancel match

October 30, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Jones is a Times staff writer.

The Galaxy on Wednesday canceled its off-season exhibition game in Australia, saying it was "not in a position to absolutely guarantee David Beckham's availability."

Beckham is under contract to the Galaxy but is negotiating a loan to AC Milan.

He said last week that he hoped to join the Italian team in late December.

Cancellation of the Galaxy's planned exhibition match against the Queensland Roar in Brisbane on Dec. 11 will cost the MLS club a sizable amount of money, not to mention causing it considerable embarrassment.

The Galaxy would have earned in excess of $500,000 -- and possibly as much a $1 million -- from the appearance fee.

According to the Brisbane Herald Sun, the game at Suncorp Stadium was expected to be a 52,000-seat sellout. The newspaper Wednesday said news of the postponement one day before tickets were to go on sale to the general public sent "alarm bells ringing after Beckham's recently announced loan deal."

A Galaxy game against an invitational all-star team on Dec. 6 in Auckland, New Zealand, will go ahead as planned, the Galaxy said, with Beckham taking part.

"I think we were trying to be proactive more than anything," said Tom Payne, the Galaxy's president of business operations. "We had a bit of a concern with the timing of the second game" because of Beckham's probable loan to AC Milan.

"The worse scenario would have been if we had shown up there to play in front of 50,000 and we didn't have key players," Payne said.

The Galaxy, with Beckham in tow, attracted more than 80,000 when it played in Sydney last year.

Payne said the team would try to find a new date for the game, but it appeared unlikely it would take place in the near future because Beckham's return from Milan would not come until close to the start of the 2009 MLS season.

Meanwhile, talks among MLS, AC Milan and Beckham's representatives continued. The Italian club has a friendly match of its own in Dubai in late December and the game's organizers have said they would increase the fee paid to AC Milan if Beckham plays.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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