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Home > Sports > News > Reuters > Report

Beckham a marketing "icon", says Real official

June 10, 2003 11:10 IST

David Beckham is an icon and one of the biggest players in the world in marketing terms but would have to sign over his image rights if he were to join Real Madrid, an official from the Spanish club said on Monday.

"Right now he (Beckham) is one of the most important players in terms of marketing," Emilio Butragueno, a former Real Madrid and Spain forward and now an official at the club, told delegates at the FT Business of Sport conference held in London on Monday.

Butragueno, who gave a presentation on Real's marketing strategy, refused to be drawn on whether the Spanish club were about to sign the Manchester United midfielder and England captain.David Beckham

"Beckham is an icon," he said. "But we have two games left in our (Spanish) league and we are fighting for the title.

"We have to create the right environment for our players so we don't want to talk about future signings."

English champions United have said there has been interest in Beckham from a number of clubs in Spain and Italy, with English media predicting a price tag of around 30 million pounds ($49.57 million).

Beckham has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Champions League winners AC Milan and Inter Milan.

But a major hurdle in the way of any possible transfer would be his extensive image rights. A global brand in his own right, the 28-year-old earns millions from individual deals with companies such as sportswear manufacturer Adidas as well as being the face of Manchester United's sponsor Vodafone.

Asked if Beckham would have to sign over his image rights if he joined Real, Butragueno replied: "Yes, he would," before confusing the issue further by saying that the club had respected the individual contracts of Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane when they joined.

Real, who have sponsorship deals with Pepsi, Adidas and Siemens, want to extend their global reach to include more Asian countries, where United already have a strong following and Beckham is well known.

"Manchester United have a huge presence in Asia and so we have to do something similar," said Butragueno.

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