Bigger Than Beckham: The Financial Details of Dempsey’s Seattle Move Revealed

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Clint Dempsey’s return to MLS is the biggest in the league’s history in more ways than one.

Clint Dempsey’s return to MLS will cost $41m. That is the bottom line.

This enormous figure becomes even more interesting once the ins-and-outs are analysed.

Whilst it may have been made general knowledge that Dempsey’s transfer fee paid to former club Tottenham Hotspur was $9m, what was not initially revealed was that the entirety of that fee was paid by MLS – not the Seattle Sounders.

MLS clearly recognised the importance and scale of Dempsey returning to the league, and for them to pay the transfer fee may be unorthodox, and it may be controversial, but it was undeniably an impressive statement.

The contract for Dempsey himself, whilst initially reported as four years in length is in fact three-and-a-half years, meaning it expires at the end of the 2016 MLS season.

Dempsey’s base salary is a guaranteed $8m per season – a very, very large figure, even by European club standards. $8m per year is the equivalent of £100,000 pew week. For comparison, that is more than Gareth Bale currently makes – the man being linked with a record-breaking £100m transfer to Real Madrid.

The means that the Sounders total investment in the deal lies at an eye-watering $24m.

Seattle Sounders majority owner Joe Roth played a very active role in the transfer. The Hollywood executive and football fan had spent time as chairman of megastudios 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney, before founding a studio of his own, Revolution Studios, and a football team of his own – the Sounders.

Desperate for the move to happen, Roth paid for 35 per cent of the total capital required for the Dempsey deal from his own personal wealth. Business magnate and Sounders co-owner and GM Adrian Hanauer put up a further 32.5 per cent, with the remaining amount being provided by various Sounders stakeholders.

Roth claims he had long-sought Dempsey, but never believed that a USMNT captain in the prime of his career would be willing to give up on his Champions League dreams to return to the MLS. Once he discovered the forward was unsettled at Spurs, his determination increased tenfold and to everyone’s incredulity he got his man.

Don Garber, Chief Commissioner of MLS, spoke to Sports Illustrated Magazine about the deal: “This signing ranks right at the very top. We have been going through a process that started almost 10 years ago, that really started with Landon Donovan. Then it kicked to a higher gear with David Beckham.

“You follow from that Thierry Henry and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who were able to make a difference for us. With Clint, it takes all of this to an even higher level. For the first time we have a world-renowned player who has international experience who’s saying I want to come to Major League Soccer in my prime.”

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