Adrian Heath knows all about new Major League Soccer franchises, having managed two expansion teams, and he believes Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo could join David Beckham’s club in Miami.
Earlier this week a group headed by Beckham finally received the green light for an MLS team in Miami to begin playing in 2020.
That Miami side will be built from scratch before joining a league featuring Orlando City and Minnesota United, two clubs who entered the division with Briton Heath at the helm.
“My first day in the office in Minnesota, December 1 in 2016, we had two players signed,” Heath revealed to Press Association Sport.
“By January 31 we had to have 28 players for pre-season. Not only did we have to bring players in, every player wants to know where he’s going to live, their security number if they’re from abroad, where the schools are, all these little things that become a real, real issue.
“Only the people who have been through it realise how difficult it is, it’s not easy, there are lots of things to overcome.”
Beckham’s team will likely be helped by having a far bigger budget than the one Heath has to currently work with in Minnesota.
The ex-Everton player reckons the backing of Beckham’s ownership group, which includes his manager Simon Fuller, along with businessmen Marcelo Claure, Masayoshi Sun and Jorge and Jose Mas, will ensure the world’s leading stars like Ronaldo or Messi can be lured to Miami.
“David was a great ambassador, nobody can ever dispute that,” Heath added.
“Now he’s on the other side, he doesn’t need any advice from me. But the more people he gets around him, the better it will be. It is very challenging and you do need people with experience who have been through that.
“If you look at David’s ownership group, they are very wealthy guys – four billionaires. They aren’t going to come in and sit idly by while Atlanta and Toronto pay and play powerhouses.
“I don’t think they’re coming here to make up the numbers, I know for a fact they’re not going to be.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the two in Spain – Messi and Ronaldo – if one of them didn’t end up with David in a couple of years.
“It’s also a very attractive place for South Americans and they will be playing in a brand new stadium downtown. I certainly don’t think he’ll have a problem with his name.”
Heath is well placed to comment on football’s growth in America, having initially moved over 10 years ago during the early days of Beckham’s playing career in Los Angeles.
He joined a club that had no name or strip, but seven years later he was managing Kaka and leading an Orlando team in front of 62,000 fans for their MLS debut.
“The journey that Orlando had sort of mirrors the growth of the league,” Heath said.
“The interest in the league is bigger than it’s ever been and it’s probably the league with the most growth still to come.”