David Beckham needs to improve PR in wake of LA Galaxy fans' reception

David Beckham must build bridges with fans of his US team LA Galaxy after a negative response to his return to the club, sports PR professionals have advised.

David Beckham: angered fans
David Beckham: angered fans

Beckham was greeted by a booing crowd on his return to LA Galaxy on Sunday. Fans also held up banners with his shirt number on reading 'Go Home Fraud' and 'Repent'. The situation came to a head when Beckham tried to hurdle an advertising board to get to a fan.
 
‘Media reports that he wanted to stay in Milan and not return to Galaxy have angered the US fans, who feel let down by their former hero,' said Generate sponsorship PR director Jonathan Neill. ‘Fans just want closure on the whole ‘future' question and the sooner that this is clarified once and for all, both Beckham and LA Galaxy can move on with their football.'

Media coverage of his return has been largely negative. The Daily Mail ran with the headline: ‘Beckham backlash: American dream crumbles as U.S. fans turn on 'disloyal' star', while the Mirror wrote: ‘David Beckham clashes with fans over 'Judas' jibes'.

Macesport founder and MD Paul Mace advised Beckham to reaffirm his commitment to the club in order to turn around support. ‘It would also help if the team and manager could underline Beckham's commitment and call on supporters to unite and support him,' he said.
 
The fans' anger stems from the fact that Beckham, who joined LA Galaxy in 2007 on a five-year deal, left earlier this year on a five-month loan to play with AC Milan. Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan also publicly questioned his effort and loyalty to the team.

Braben director of sport Rachel Froggatt said: 'Inviting disgruntled fans for an informal meet and greet and kick-around could be a good tactic, covered at a distance by media. A carefully-worded (but not overly-orchestrated) explanation and statement reinforcing his commitment to the club and its fans would also help the situation.'

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