David Beckham, Phil Anschutz and Newcastle United?
Could Galaxy midfielder David Beckham soon be suiting up in the famous black-and-white stripes of Newcastle United?
Could teammate Landon Donovan be doing the same?
It's not as far-fetched a notion as it seems on the surface, not with all the reports circulating in the northeast of England.
There, according to several newspapers, the race to purchase the English Premier League club is down to only two serious names -- and one of them is Philip F. Anschutz, whose AEG company tentacles are global in reach.
The other man said to be chasing Newcastle United is Clark Hunt, son of the late Lamar Hunt and, like Anschutz, a Major League Soccer owner and investor. Also being mentioned as possible bidders are the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban and the Portland Trailblazers' Paul Allen, although Anschutz and Hunt supposedly are the front-runners.
Newcastle United was founded in 1892 and is a four-time English league champion and six-time F.A. Cup winner. Its St. James Park stadium, refurbished within the decade, seats 52,387 and is the third-biggest ground in England behind Manchester United's Old Trafford and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.
The club has endured a rough time since its purchase last year by Mike Ashley, who paid a reported $225-million for one of England's most illustrious and best-supported clubs. A fan revolt against Ashley over the September resignation as coach of former England international Kevin Keegan, a massively popular figure in Newcastle, has caused Ashley to put the club up for sale.
There have been others interested in buying the club, but Anschutz, according to England's Daily Telegraph newspaper, has emerged as "Newcastle's most credible suitor."
Three other Premier League clubs -- Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester United -- already are in American hands and Newcastle United, given its history and its passionate following, would rank high on any list of prime acquisitions among the league's teams.
Were Anschutz to buy Newcastle United, it could open the door for Beckham to return to the Premier League and play at the level he needs to in order to maintain his place on England's national team. It would also give Donovan the chance to move to Europe, as he wants to do, without leaving the AEG fold.
It's all a long shot, of course, but for the moment even the speculation is intriguing.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: David Beckham hugs Landon Donovan after Beckham scored a goal in the Galaxy's home opener on April 3. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times