Former England captain David Beckham’s dream of owning a football club is about to become reality as he launches his long-planned Major League Soccer team in Miami.
Beckham exercised an option in his contract with former side LA Galaxy to buy an expansion franchise in 2014.
The as-yet-unnamed team is set to play at a 25,000-seat stadium in the city’s Overtown neighbourhood.
“I’m excited to bring this great team to this great city – it has been a hell of a journey,” said former Manchester United midfielder Beckham, 42.
“I promise you the team we will bring into the league will be the best team.”
Miami was officially granted an expansion side by MLS commissioner Don Garber at an announcement ceremony on Monday.
Beckham was congratulated in a video featuring his four children, wife and former Spice Girl Victoria, 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and other celebrities including Will Smith, Jay Z and Jennifer Lopez.
Beckham, who joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007, becomes the first former MLS player to own a team in the league.
“I joined the Galaxy because I realised the long-term potential in this league,” he said.
“I moved from Real Madrid to a league that wasn’t fully established yet – that was a big move and one I knew was going to be a big challenge but an exciting challenge.
“Commissioner Garber came to me and sat down and explained the plan of this league and where he wanted to take it – I was in from day one.”
Los Angeles FC will join city rivals Galaxy in 2018, bringing the total number of teams to 23, with the league planning to increase to 28. Nashville were awarded an expansion club in December.
Beckham, who won 115 England caps, retired from football in 2013 after a five-month spell with Paris St-Germain, choosing Miami as the location for his MLS team later that year. The city has not had a football team since Miami Fusion folded in 2001.
The launch follows four years of disputes over the site for a stadium in southern Florida, with residents having opposed multiple locations.
Beckham’s team of investors purchased the land to build a stadium in December 2015, following three failed attempts to buy a suitable site.
The Miami-Dade government was subsequently sued by wealthy businessman Bruce Matheson, who claimed it had sold the site below fair value and without a competitive bid process. The lawsuit was dismissed in October, although Matheson has said he will appeal.
The other partners involved in the team include former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, Bolivian-American businessman Marcelo Claure, South Floridian businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, and Japanese entrepreneur Masayoshi Son.