David Beckham’s long-awaited plan to launch a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in Miami has finally come to fruition on Monday.
Miami, and Beckham, were officially granted an expansion side by MLS commissioner Don Garber at a ceremony on Monday.
The former Manchester United, LA Galaxy and England star said the team, which doesn’t yet have a name, will hopefully start to play in 2020 and are set to start playing at a permanent 25,000-seat stadium in the city’s Overtown neighbourhood by 2021.
Beckham exercised an option in his contract with former side LA Galaxy to buy an expansion franchise in 2014, but years of delays caused by legal battles over a stadium site led to doubt the plan would ever get off the ground.
“I’m excited to bring this great team to this great city – it has been a hell of a journey,” said former Manchester United midfielder Beckham, 42.
“I promise you the team we will bring into the league will be the best team.”
A congratulatory video featured Beckham’s four children, his wife Victoria, tennis legend Serena Williams, sprinter Usain Bolt, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and many celebrities including Will Smith, Jay Z and Jennifer Lopez.
Beckham is the first former MLS player to own a team in the league.
“I joined the Galaxy because I realised the long-term potential in this league,” he said.
“I moved from Real Madrid to a league that wasn’t fully established yet – that was a big move and one I knew was going to be a big challenge but an exciting challenge.
“Commissioner Garber came to me and sat down and explained the plan of this league and where he wanted to take it – I was in from day one.”
The 22-team MLS plans to expand to 28.
Los Angeles FC will become the 23rd team later this year, while Nashville was awarded an expansion club in December.
Miami has not had a football team since Miami Fusion went bust in 2001.
Other members of Beckham’s ownership group includes Miami businessman Jorge Mas, his brother Jose Mas, Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son and CEO Marcelo Claure, and former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.