Nov 26 (Reuters) - Major League Soccer (MLS) is pushing ahead with plans to add a second team in New York but said David Beckham will not be allowed to buy into the new franchise when he retires from playing.
MLS commissioner Don Garber, speaking to reporters on Monday in his annual “state of the league” call, said the organisation was in talks with New York City and was hoping to add a second team in the United States’ biggest market in 2016.
If agreement can be reached, the team would be based in Queens, near the national tennis center and Citifield stadium where Major League Baseball’s New York Mets play their home games.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen to finalise our agreement with New York City over our use of the land and our ability to lease that land to build a stadium,” Garber said.
“I do believe that we will resolve that shortly. I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line.
The addition of the team would lift the total number of sides in the MLS to 20 and create an instant local rivalry in New York, which already has the Red Bulls.
Garber said “many ownership groups” were interested in funding the team but Beckham would not be considered despite expressing interest in owning a franchise when his playing days are over.
As part of the deal to lure the former England captain to the United States, Beckham has an option to buy an expansion franchise but Garber said there was a clause in his contract excluding the Big Apple.
“Anything’s a possibility other than his right to exercise that option in New York,” Garber said.
Beckham, who joined the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007, is quitting the MLS after Saturday’s Cup final against Houston.
Garber said his contribution to building the fledgling league was impossible to calculate but there was no doubt he was leaving the league in a better state than when he joined.
“No-one could argue that he hasn’t over delivered,” Garber said.
“His presence here served without doubt as a catalyst for other world class players to come here.
“We needed David Beckham in 2007 to help drive our credibility ... but we don’t need anything today to get us to the next level.”
To underline the league’s progress, Garber said there would be no changes to the competition format next year although the season would start earlier than normal.
The league has undergone several transformations in recent seasons but Garber said the 34-game schedule used in 2012 would be retained with the season kicking off on March 2 so they could add more breaks for World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup.
“Consistency will be the theme for us in 2013,” Garber said.
“It’s something that we’ve strived to achieve over the last number of years.” (Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)