UK & World News
'Brand Beckham' Still Strong For PSG Debut
They've always called him 'Le Spice Boy', and this weekend the French public will tune in to what they're calling 'BeckCam', as a special camera tracks David Beckham's every move when he makes his first appearance for new club Paris St Germain against Olympique Marseille.'Le cirque' is well and truly in town.
Not bad for a player now in his 38th year, the second oldest in Ligue 1 and some years past his prime.
But then, it's never been about that. What Beckham brings to his employers is no longer a world class player (indeed there are many who believe that even at his peak Beckham fell short of the level of the very top players in the world game), but a high profile 'brand' that even the very best players that have ever played the game could only dream of.
That translates into the potential for considerable commercial revenue that comes with 'brand Beckham' wearing the blue and red shirt of PSG.
Here's why that matters. The Qatari owned club, like Manchester City, are among the biggest spenders in world football and, under UEFA rules, are now obliged to comply with Financial Fair Play. That means spending only what you earn, albeit with some leeway in the early years of the FFP blueprint.
The arrival of Beckham, then, appears to be a perfect marriage.
He's arrived at no cost as a free agent, his salary will go to charity, and unless his popularity falls away quickly, he will bring substantial revenue to the club via shirt sales and various commercial spin-offs.
On top of this, his role as an ambassador for the ambitious club should bring the goodwill the Qatari owners crave.
Beckham is a past master at it, and was used for just that purpose in the great success story of the London 2012 Olympics.
It will be interesting to see whether he plays a major role in Qatar's charm offensive ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Beckham's come a long way as a global figure since his days in France at the 1998 World Cup, not long after becoming 'Le Spice Boy' as the other half of 'Posh Spice', now wife Victoria.
Back then they were only recently an item, and I can remember asking him about her during a media conference at England's World Cup training camp at La Baule on the Atlantic coast. She'd just joined Beckham a day or two before along with the other wives and girlfriends (before they were known as 'WAGS').
"What have you been up to? Apart from the obvious?" I asked, a bumbled question that drew a roar of laughter from the media gathering.
"Er ... relaxing," was Beckham's response with an embarrassed grin and full on blush.
The tournament ended with that infamous sending off in St Etienne against Argentina and what seemed like half of the country blaming the young superstar for England's exit from the tournament.
But he survived that to become England's highest ever caps winner for an outfield player and along the way established himself as a global icon who transcended his sport.
It's that latter reason that will bring a certain fascination to seeing him turn out again for his latest club.
As a player Beckham's unlikely to be the defining factor on the field for PSG as they attempt to win the French League for the first time since 1994.
But he's in the right place at the right time, once again, one last stop in a perfectly managed career.