Beckham 'acquired' for Japan 'Pay-Per-View' yield

"After winning, three La Liga and three Champions Leagues between 1997 and 2003, Real Madrid were the most popular, and perhaps the most profitable, club in the world. But President Florentino Perez was not satisfied," Ken Pendleton wrote in his article Football, Futbol, Calcio: Money, the Root of a Real Crisis, on the US pro-football players website. "He wanted to win everything all the time, he wanted to make them into a global brand - as if they weren't already - and he wanted, as we shall see, to do it on the cheap".

An important part of this strategy, apparantly, was to capture England captain David Beckham's appeal in Asia:

"... he acquired David Beckham, even though he once emphatically dismissed the idea ('Never, never, never, seven times never') and let Ronaldinho go to Barcelona. The fact that the latter was a vastly superior player was not, as one of the club's director's explained, the point: 'Ronaldinho is so ugly that he'd sink you as a brand. Between him and Beckham, I'd go for Beckham a hundred times' ...

"In order to capitalize on Beckham's celebrity, Real Madrid set out a 30,000-mile world tour, sometimes playing matches in 90 percent humidity. Luis Figo hoped that 'this doesn't cost us ' next season, but Perez was looking after what he saw as the bigger picture.

"The goal, according to him, was to use Beckham's 'universality' to promote Real's 'evangelization' throughout East Asia: 'When Pay-Per-View hit Japan we could make in a day what Spain yields in a year' ...

"The irony in all this," Pendleton argued, "is that Barcelona is now the most popular team in the world and Ronaldinho's replica jerseys are the most widely sold."

See also: Real Madrid TV, the 'galáctico' of brand building? (7 Nov)