A-League ready to unleash ‘David Beckham’ rule

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The next A-League season is likely to feature the introduction of a ‘designated player’ rule which will allow wealthier clubs to field two further signings outside the salary cap.

The tweak - dubbed the Beckham Rule when rolled out by the MLS in 2007 - will run in tandem with existing two-player marquee regulations.

It was originally adopted in the US to allow franchises to sign up to three players outside the salary cap and coincided with former Manchester United and England star David Beckham’s arrival at LA Galaxy 14 years ago on a glitzy $8 million contract.

It will work in favour of the A-League elite who will be able to lure additional talent in the $300,000-$600,000 pay bracket without breaching salary cap guidelines.

An announcement is expected shortly by Australian Professional League chiefs with discussions ongoing with  Football Australia and the players’ body, Professional Footballers Australia.

The salary cap will be set at $2.5 million annually on the back of the recently agreed five-year $200 million broadcast rights deal with Network Ten and its streaming subsidiary Paramount+.

The APL, according to sources, is also close to finalising the sale of up to 20 per cent of the competition to an unnamed private equity group.

The Australian Financial Review last month reported that the New York-based Raine Group had been tasked by the APL with conjuring a capital infusion of between $100-150 million.

The stake in the league has been pitched at private equity funds, sports rights groups, media companies and other potential investors.

The APL plans to use a portion of any proceeds to cover production costs for the five games per week to be streamed on Paramount+.

Under the terms of the broadcast accord, it’s understood Network Ten will only produce one match each week. 

Exiting TV rights holder Fox Sports paid $15 million annually in production costs.